Skip to main content

Full text of "Leonard Bernstein A Biography For Young People"

See other formats

92 B53e CopyjL 

Ewen, David^ 1907- $3,50 

Leonard Bernstein j a biography 
for young people Philadelphia, 
Chilton Company, Book Division 

" ~~! Kansas city, missouri 

Books will be issued only 

on presentation of library card. 
Please report lost cards and 

change of residence promptly. 
Card holders are responsible for 

all books, records, films, pictures 
or other library materials 
checked out on their cards, 


Leonard Bernstein 



The World o Jerome Kern: A Biography 
Complete Book of the American Musical Theater 

Richard Rodgers 
A Journey to Greatness : The Life and Music of George Gershwin 

The Encyclopedia of the Opera 

The Encyclopedia of Concert Music 

A Panorama of American Popular Music 

The Home Book of Musical Knowledge 

Milton Cross' Encyclopedia of Great Composers and Their Music 
(with Milton Cross) 

The Complete Book of 20th Century Music 

Music for the Millions 

Dictators of the Baton 

Music Comes to America 

The Book of Modern Composers 


The Story of George Gershwin 
The Story of Irving Berlin 
The Story of Jerome Kern 

Haydn: A Good Life 

Tales from the Vienna Woods: The Story of Johann Strauss 
The Story of Arturo Toscanini 

Leonard Bernstein 


David Ewen 

"All music is creation. It is one of the most 
mysterious and deeply moving experiences 
you can have" LEONARD BERNSTEIN 





Second printing, January 196 
Third printing, May 1961 
Fourth printing, December 19 

All Eights Reserved 

Published in Philadelphia by Chilton Company, 
and simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by Ambassador Books, Ltd. 




PRELUDE: "One Sunday Afternoon" i 

PART ONE: "The Winter of Discontent?' 7 

1 "I Was a Miserable, Terrified Little Child" . . 7 

2 "I Knew with Finality I Would Be a Musician" . 12 

3 "It Was as Though I Didn't Exist Without Music" 17 

4 "One of the Most Mysterious and Deeply Moving Ex- 
periences" 23 

5 "There Was No Place for Me" 30 

6 "It Seemed the Most Natural Thing in the World for 

Me to Be Conducting" 34 

7 "This Was My Valley Forge" 44 

8 "Here We Go!" 53 

ENTR'ACTE i: "Why Is a Conductor Necessary?" ... 59 

PART TWO: "Made Glorious Summer by This Sun . . ." . 67 

9 "I Live in a Schizophrenic World" .... 67 

10 "Lenny" 78 

11 "An Artist Has the Compulsion to Work" . . 84 

12 "When I'm Conducting, Nothing Else Exists" . 91 

13 "The Only Way One Can Really Say Anything 
About Music Is to Write Music" . 101 

14 "The Happy Medium" 113 

15 "Who Do I Think I AmEverybody?" ... 120 

CM (Mitt 

ENIU'ACTE n: "The History of the Philharmonic Is the His- 
tory of Music in America" 129 

PART THREE: "And All the Clouds That Lour'd upon Our 

House in the Deep Bosom of the Ocean Buried" 133 

16 "What an Orchestra! I Am a Happy Man" . . 133 

17 "Audiences Are the Same the World Over" . . 139 

CODA: "Whither Lenny?" 151 


I Works by Leonard Bernstein 157 

II Recordings of Leonard Bernstein's Music . . . 163 

III About Leonard Bernstein 165 

INDEX 167 


Leonard Bernstein 



"One Sunday Afternoon" 

It hardly seemed likely that the big news on that 
Sunday afternoon of November 14, 1943, would come out of 
Carnegie Hall. 

The world was at war. In every combat area from the mud 
of southern Italy to the vast expanses of the Soviet Union and 
across the jungles of the Pacific the forces of the free world 
were locked in a life-and-death struggle with a formidable 
enemy. But by November 1943 the tide of war had finally 
turned, implacably if still slowly, in our favor. In the Soviet 
Union, where Kiev had just been retaken by the Red Army, 
the Nazi hordes were in retreat. In Africa, the sad remnants of 
a once proud, conquering Nazi army had been trapped on 
Cape Bon; to all intents and purposes the war there was over. 
General Douglas MacArthur's troops landed successfully on 
New Guinea, while those of General Mark Clark had finally 
made the first penetration into fortress Europe at Salerno, Italy. 

Surely, if some piece of news would arrest the interest and 
the excitement of the American people when they opened their 
favorite newspaper on Monday morning, November 15, it 
would come out of some field of battle. 

Perhaps the story would tell o a new rousing victory, per- 
haps o another strategic advance, perhaps of a new invasion, 
perhaps of a further portent of our ultimate victory. Yet the 
news that captured most Americans that Monday morning 
was not of war but of peace; not of death and destruction but 
of life and the creation of music. Of all the dramatic, grim, 
heroic, soul-searing episodes that must have taken place all over 
the face of the globe on that Sunday afternoon, the biggest piece 
of news proved to be a symphony concert. 

Nor, as they filed into Carnegie Hall, could subscribers to the 
New York Philharmonic that day have suspected that some- 
thing special was about to take place. The concert that after- 
noon Mowed traditional grooves, not much different from hun- 
dreds of others that had taken place on earlier Sundays. The 
conductor was no stranger: he was the venerable Bruno Walter, 
come to make one of his many guest appearances with this 
orchestra. The program was not unusual. Except for a single 
world premiere (and that one, by a comparatively unknown 
composer, hardly calculated to arouse much anticipation) it 
was made up of familiar items by Schumann, Richard Strauss, 

and Wagner. 

But what the Philharmonic audience in the hall (and the radio 
public throughout the country) did not know until concert 
time was that Bruno Walter was sick in bed and that a last- 
minute substitute had been called in hurriedly. This replace- 
ment was no familiar veteran of the baton. He was a young 
American of twenty-five named Leonard Bernstein, who had 
just that season been appointed assistant conductor of the Phil- 

Inside Carnegie Hall, the audience saw a strikingly hand- 
some youth looking more like a college undergraduate than 
a full-fledged maestro stride vigorously, if also somewhat self- 
consciously, across the stage. He was wearing an ordinary gray 
business suit instead of formal attire. There was no baton in 

his hand as he lifted it over the orchestra for the first down- 
beat. He presented a picture of informality, almost as though 
he were about to direct a high-school orchestra in an assembly 
instead of one of the world's greatest orchestras in one of the 
world's most renowned concert auditoriums. 

The opening three chords of Schumann's Manfred Overture 
pierced sharply through and shattered the expectant hush that 
had flooded the hall. The young man's supple, expressive hands 
seemed to shape the tones in midair as if they were a piece of 
clay being molded into a statue. As the overture progressed he 
revealed himself as a musician who knew what he was about. 
The beat was efficient, exact, precise. The cupped hand vibrated 
eloquently near his heart. The graceful motions of both hands 
continually suggested changing shades of color and nuances. 
Here was a conductor who, as the saying goes, did not have his 
head in the score but the score in his head. He hardly glanced 
at the printed page before him. Indeed, his eyes were closed; 
the mobile, eloquent face reflected sensitively all the moods and 
emotions of the music; the body moved with suppleness. 

Not a moment of doubt, not a suggestion of uncertainty or 
confusion entered into his conducting for the remainder of that 
program. He seemed to know precisely what he wanted, both 
from the music and the musicians, and his demands were ful- 
filled almost as if in reflex action. It did not take long for that 
audience in Carnegie Hall (or the nationwide radio public 
either) to recognize that they were in the presence of that 
rara avis in music, a "born conductor." This young man knew 
his scores, could completely dominate the musicians under him, 
and was able to charge the atmosphere about him with magnetic 
sparks and transmit currents of electricity throughout the audi- 

When the concert ended, the cognoscenti gathered in little 
groups outside Carnegie Hall. Some lingered on for a while in 
the street. Some gathered for cocktails at the Russian Tea Room 


a few doors down, Some dropped in for a cup of coffee in the 
drugstore on the corner. All the talk everywhere in or about 
Carnegie Hall seemed to concentrate on the exciting youngster 
who had just made such an impressive debut. By now the word 
had circulated swifdy that before that day Bernstein had never 
conducted a major orchestra. More wonderful still, he had 
directed the exacting program of that afternoon on less than 
twenty-four hours' notice, without the benefit of a single re- 
hearsal! Some people surmised that probably he was the young- 
est man ever to direct the Philharmonic, which actually was 
the case. Others, in a somewhat more flippant mood, remarked 
that another fact had set this concert in a class by itself: surely 
nobody before had led the august Philharmonic dressed in a 
business suit! 

Veteran concertgoers hunted the storehouse of their mem- 
ories for another conducting debut as dramatic, exciting, and 
unprecedented as this one had been. They could come up 
with only one: the time the awesome Arturo Toscanini, the 
greatest conductor of the 20th century, made his own bow. 
This event took place in Rio de Janeiro, in South America. A 
visiting Italian company was giving there a spring season of 
opera performances. On June 25, 1886, the regular conductor, be- 
cause of differences with the management, defected from his 
scheduled appearance in Aida. At curtain time a nineteen-year- 
old cellist in the opera orchestra, Arturo Toscanini, was asked 
by the directors of the company to take over the baton. This 
young Italian had never before conducted any kind of per- 
formance anywhere. But it was general knowledge in the com- 
pany that he possessed a fabulous memory, extraordinary ear, 
and profound musicianship. The feeling was that he might 
very well be able to conduct the performance that evening with- 
out blunders or mishaps. The young Toscanini went to the 
stand with his head bent and baton slung under his armpit. With- 
out even opening the score on the desk before him, he proceeded 


to direct from memory a performance of Aida such as had 
never before been given by that company, or for that matter 
such as Rio de Janeiro had previously heard authoritatively, 
electrically. When the opera ended, a thunderous ovation ac- 
claimed him. The career of one of the world's greatest conduc- 
tors had begun. 

The striking parallel between Toscanini and Bernstein did 
not escape some of those who gathered after the concert. Both 
men had made their debuts without any previous experience, 
and both men had given commanding performances without a 
single rehearsal. An inevitable question haunted many that day. 
Had they just witnessed the historic beginnings of another 

Apparently some of the newspapers thought so. The next 
morning the New York critics lauded Bernstein's performance 
without reservation, in one or two cases these notices appeared 
on the front page. There was even comment in many editorial 
columns. Syndicates spread the story of the debut to newspapers, 
large and small, in every part of the country. Completely un- 
known only twenty-four hours earlier, Bernstein awoke on 
Monday morning to find he was famous. 

He was an "overnight success," a term frequently found in 
biographies of musicians and actors and playwrights. But in 
music, as elsewhere, many an "overnight success" comes only 
after years of struggle, frustration, perhaps even despair. 

Young though he was when he first became famous, Leonard 
Bernstein had been no exception. 


"The Winter ofDiscontenf 


"I was a miserable, terrified 
little child" 

The history of music tells many a story of parents 
driving their sons to music study relentlessly, at times with 
extreme cruelty. Such was the case with Beethoven's father. 
Music history also abounds with tales of other parents let us 
say the fathers of Handel, Schumann, and Johann Strauss II 
who were equally severe and despotic in trying to keep their 
sons away from music. 

Leonard Bernstein belongs to the latter group. One day in 
the summer of 1956, after Bernstein had brilliantly conducted 
a concert at Tanglewood, his father remarked sadly: "Every 
genius had a handicap. Lenny had a father.'* 

Lenny's father is Samuel Joseph Bernstein a successful busi- 
nessman who from the beginning was determined to have 

Lenny engage in the world of commerce rather than of art. 
As the son of a Chassidic scholar, Samuel Bernstein had in 
his native Russia been steeped in religious lore; thus he was 
well able to appreciate spiritual values over material ones. In- 
deed from the time Lenny was a child, Samuel made a con- 
scious and studied effort to instill in the boy what the father 
described as "the godly spirit" ("Ruach Elohim") -through 
religion, education, and an appreciation of life's nobler pursuits. 
As Samuel Bernstein liked to say: "Without such a spmt, a man 
is nothing, and the food in his mouth is like straw. With it, 
he is everything. He does not become dizzy when he reaches 

high places." 

But in Samuel's estimation this godly spirit did not embrace 
music. In the Russian ghetto, where the older Bernstein had 
been raised, a musician was a "fyesmer' ' a humble, impoverished 
fellow. He played at weddings, parties, and sometimes even 
in public parks and squares. The living he was able to eke out 
from such performances made possible only a hand-to-mouth 
existence at best, while at worst it brought the most abject 
poverty. Samuel had known too many tyesmer in Russia not 
to have acquired an instinctive revulsion to a profession that 
offered so little materially to its practitioners. And he had too 
long known the galling taste of poverty, the humiliation and 
degradation it inflicts on its victims, not to be in perpetual 
horror of it. No! he would most certainly never permit any 
child of his to become a tyesmer! 

Like so many of his compatriots, Samuel Bernstein had come 
to America to find a refuge from the ghettos and pogroms of 
his native Russia. The year was approximately 1909, and he 
was about sixteen at the time. Also, like many of his com- 
patriots, he settled in the slums of New York's East Side, where 
he soon found a job cleaning fish beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. 
For this work his only compensation were the pennies grateful 
customers would drop into a tin box as a tip, usually amounting 

to about a dollar a day. Such an income could permit him to 
live only in a dark, dank, airless room of a congested tenement, 
and to allow him only a few cents a day for food, which gener- 
ally consisted of nothing more than a slice of black bread and 
some herring. 

Samuel was an ambitious lad. After his day's work he would 
go to evening school to learn the language of his new home- 
land. He was ever on the lookout for ways in which to better 
himself. When he was nineteen he took a civil service exami- 
nation which he failed because of imperfect spelling. Soon 
after that he became an errand boy for a beauty-parlor supply 
firm. When this shop opened a branch in Boston he was able 
to convince the owner to send him there as its manager. In 
Boston he married Jennie Resnick, also a native of Russia. He 
also managed through hard work, indefatigable drive, and initia- 
tive to save enough money to buy out the store where he was 
employed and set out for himself as a supplier to beauty par- 
lors and barber shops, and in time to make the Samuel J. Bern- 
stein Hair Supplies Company a thriving business. 

His first child was Leonard born in Lawrence, Massachu- 
setts, on August 25, 1918. At the time the Bernsteins were living 
in Boston proper. They were vacationing with some relatives in 
Lawrence when the mother had her birth pangs and was rushed 
to its hospital where Lenny was born. A half dozen years later 
came Shirley. With the birth of Burton in 1931 the immediate 
family circle was completed. 

During Lenny's childhood and boyhood, his family frequently 
changed residence in or near Boston. To find himself continually 
in a new neighborhoodwith ever unfamiliar points of reference 
and among boys who were strangers would have proved an 
emotionally disturbing experience even for a normal boy. And 
Lenny was no normal boy. From birth on he had been a vic- 
tim of chronic asthma, of rose fever, of hay fever. He was con- 
tinually taken to doctors, continually given injections. He 


became a sickly, skinny, unhappy little boy who did not make 
friends easily. He was in perpetual terror of the neighborhood 
boys because he was usually the helpless victim of their aggres- 
sions. Lenny, consequently, became an introvert. He preferred the 
security of his home to the society of friends or the diversion of 
kids' games. In addition, his parents' continual concern over his 
health, well-being, and even his appearance (which they did not 
try to hide from him) served to aggravate his stifling sense of 
inferiority. He became a sad, lonely, maladjusted boy, whose 
major concern was to be left strictly alone. 

Since neither parent was musical, there was little good music 
in the Bernstein household. A phonograph was a part o the 
living-room furniture, but the only pieces of music Lenny 
remembers hearing on it were the hit songs of the day, such as 
"Barney Google" and "Oh, by Jingo!" Nevertheless, a few 
musical experiences managed to touch him. When they did the 
effect on him was far-reaching. He was about eight years old 
when his father took him one Saturday morning to the local 
synagogue, where the music of the organ and the choir made 
the boy burst into tears. At about the same time, while visit- 
ing relatives or friends who owned pianos, he would always 
drift away from their company to find his way to the key- 
board where he would immediately become totally absorbed 
in the game of combining random tones into familiar tunes. 

Then, one magic day he has never forgotten, he came home 
from his religious classes at the Temple Mishkan Tefila, to find 
a piano standing in his own living room. His Aunt Clara had 
sent it over to his house for temporary storage. It was an old, 
weatherbeaten, ugly upright instrument. But to the eleven-year- 
old boy it was a thing of ineffable beauty. "I made love to it 
right away," he recalls, by trying to play on it the melodies he 
knew to his own improvised accompaniments, songs like Irving 
Berlin's "Blue Skies." 

A new world now opened up for Lenny. It was the first 

world where he could be completely at ease; where he could 
find solace, joy, and stimulation; where the problems and har- 
assments of his everyday life did not exist. The moment he 
came home from school he would rush to the piano. He would 
stay there for hours at an end. His sister, Shirley, recalls more 
than one evening during her childhood when she was kept 
awake by the sounds of Lenny's musical tinkerings. Late one 
night the entire family was awakened by the piano. The father 
stumbled into the living room and shouted: "Lenny, don't 
you know what time it is? It's two o'clock! What in heaven's 
name are you doing?" Lenny answered firmly: "I have to do 
this. The sounds are in my head and I have to get them out." 

Like the proverbial love affair, this one with the piano re- 
fused to run a smooth course. Lenny's parents had long since 
decided that he would be the one, someday, to take over the 
already flourishing beauty-supply business. They wanted noth- 
ing to frustrate these plans. Every time Lenny was at the 
piano, they would nag him to leave it alone and do his home- 
work instead. They argued, and at times they became explo- 
sively angry. But Lenny stubbornly refused to surrender his 
precious hours with music. 

"I knew with finality," he has said, "I would be a musician." 



"I knew with finality I would be 

a musician" 

After the piano had been in the Bernstein living 
room about a month, Lenny began asking for lessons. Even iron 
must melt in the presence of intense heat. Lenny's parents, faced 
by his intransigeance, were finally compelled to relent and allow 
him to seek out a teacher. Scouting the neighborhood, he came 
upon a woman in the vicinity who charged $1.00 a lesson. She 
taught him for about two years, feeding him on "The Moun- 
tain Belle" and "On to Victory," and similar trifles which he 
performed at her annual students concerts. When she married 
and moved to California, Lenny acquired a teacher in down- 
town Boston whose fee was $3.00 a lesson. This increase in 
price represented a major crisis in the Bernstein household, for 
Lenny's father stubbornly refused to pay the price for the les- 
sons. A compromise was worked out in which Lenny gave up 
all but 25 cents of his allowance while his father paid the piano 

This second period of study, lasting a little over a year, al- 
most proved a disaster for Lenny. His teacher had a method 
which required the hands to be held rigidly, knuckles down, 
while the fingers moved stiffly across the keys. Subjecting him- 
self to such taxing and unnatural digital discipline could have 
permanently damaged the muscles of the hands if fortunately 


perhaps from an instinctive feeling for self-preservation- 
Lenny had not suddenly decided to seek out a new teacher. At 
this crucial period in his training, he was able to find the right 

One of the most distinguished instructors of the piano in 
Boston was Heinrich Gebhard. He was then fifty-two, behind 
him a distinguished career as concert pianist (begun in 1896) 
which placed him in the front rank of interpreters of Impres- 
sionist music. Lenny, determined to get the best possible instruc- 
tion available in Boston and made fully aware of the remark- 
able background and reputation of this teacher asked for and 
received an audition. Bernstein played a few of the compositions 
he had recently learned and in the unnatural position of hands 
which he had been taught. Gebhard smiled sadly, and told the 
boy as gently as he could that he was not yet ready for what- 
ever Gebhard could offer him. "A few years from now, per- 
haps we shall see. But not yet, my boy, not yet." Gebhard, 
however, came up with a valuable suggestion: Why not study 
with Gebhard's competent assistant, a young lady named Helen 
Coates? She was eminently qualified to teach the boy. If he 
made favorable progress with her, he could then begin study- 
ing with Gebhard. There was also another, and highly prac- 
tical, reasoa why, for the time being, Helen Coates was prefer- 
able to Gebhard where Lenny was concerned. Gebhard received 
$25.00 a lesson, a sum Bernstein knew he would never be able to 
raise. Helen Coates was willing to take him on for $6.00 a les- 
son, a price Lenny could cope with by taking only one lesson 
every two weeks. 

Helen Coates immediately set about the serious business of 
repairing the damage inflicted on Lenny by his previous teacher. 
He was subjected to a rigorous diet of scales, exercises, and 
etudes by Czerny, Chopin, and others. But Helen Coates was 
not a martinet concerned merely with the position of hands, 
wrists, and fingers, important though she regarded such instruc- 


tion. She was a sensitive musician and a sympathetic and com- 
passionate human being well able to understand and respond 
to a student like Lenny. When she discovered he had a seem- 
ingly insatiable appetite for music, she extended his musical 
diet to a lavish full-course meal. She encouraged him to listen 
to performances of good music on the radio; she advised him 
to borrow musical scores from the library and learn to read them 
as one might a novel; she took a personal interest in the music 
he himself was already trying to write. Recognizing in Bernstein 
an alert, resdess, and expansive intelligence, she did not hesitate 
to have him discuss with her whatever was on his mind at any 
given moment not only music but also poetry or politics or 
good books. 

"He used to come to me right from school," she says. "Since 
I never knew when he'd go home, I never scheduled anyone after 
him. He'd bring me his report cards, poems, questions on world 
topics. He talked about everything." 

The one-hour lesson soon overflowed into an hour and a 
half, then into two hours. Lenny brought to Helen Coates' 
studio some of the scores he borrowed from the library, and 
teacher and pupil would go through them at the piano. While 
rummaging among the shelves of published music in the library, 
Bernstein came upon opera, up to that time for him terra 
incognita. He would divide the principal roles with Helen 
Coates, and they would plow through entire scenes, (He did 
the same thing at home. Shirley, now aged nine, would sing 
the female parts, and Lenny the male, both making desperate 
attempts to pronounce the French, Italian, or German words, 
even though at the time neither one had any knowledge of these 
languages.) Lenny would also show Coates some of his com- 
positions, sometimes popular tunes, sometimes highly ambitious 
works. One day he brought her a piano concerto in a romantic 
style which he had written before he had begun taking lessons 
with her music so derivative of Tschaikovsky and Liszt that he 

later described it facetiously as "a tug of war between the Russians 
and the gypsies." 

"He was frighteningly gifted," recalls Helen Coates. "He 
could read, sing, and memorize anything. He absorbed in one 
lesson an arrangement that took most of my pupils five or six 
lessons to learn." 

To Bernstein's father, this passionate, seemingly irresistible, 
dedication to music on Lenny's part was a matter for deep con- 
cern. Nevertheless, he could not fail to notice the extraordinary 
change for the better beginning to take place with the boy. At 
the exacting Boston Latin School, which Lenny had entered 
in his eleventh year after attending neighborhood grammar 
schools, he was a brilliant all-around student. He was also out- 
standing in his religious studies at Temple Mishkan Tefila, where 
for his Confirmation he wrote his own speech, a brilliant one in 
the Hebrew tongue. It was almost as if his musical training had 
become a whetstone on which he had sharpened his intelligence 
to a keen edge. But this was not all that music had done for him. 
A remarkable transformation was taking place even in his phys- 
ical and personal make-up. Apparently music had proved the 
stimulus he needed to change a sickly, pitiable little boy into a 
well-built, vigorous athlete; to transform a retiring and self-con- 
scious misfit into a well-poised social being. Bernstein himself 
put it this way: "One day I was a scrawny little thing that every- 
body could beat up, and the next time I looked around I was the 
biggest boy in class. I could run faster, jump higher, dive better 
.than anybody." At a summer camp in 1932 he won first prize in 
high jumping and proved adept at swimming, diving, and horse- 
back riding. He was also now for the first time extremely popu- 
lar especially when he entertained boys with his renditions at 
the piano of Tin Pan Alley tunes and jazz. These impromptu 
little performances supplemented by concerts in the school audi- 
torium and appearances as soloist with the Boston Public School 


Orchestrahelped make out of him an extrovert who took inor- 
dinate delight in sharing his own musical experiences with others. 
He no longer hesitated to accept invitations to parties. On the 
contrary, he now began to seek them out eagerly. There was 
hardly a party where he did not become a focal point of interest. 
"I just ran for the piano as soon as I got in the door and stayed 
there until they threw me out. It was as though I didn't exist 
without music." 



"It was as though I didn't exist 
without music" 

Lenny was engaged in music all the time, at the 
slightest provocation. When he was not playing the piano he 
was reading musical scores borrowed from the Newton library 
with the same open-eyed fascination with which other boys 
devoured science fiction or books about sports. His neighbors 
regarded him as an eccentric because while walking to and from 
the library or to and from school he would often nod to 
himself, chuckle, grimace while reading the music. "I can hear 
it in my head as I read it," he confided to a friend. 

Again and again he provided testimony to his singular pas- 
sion for every kind and type of music. He spent several sum- 
mers at a boys' camp in Sharon, Massachusetts. Though by now 
an adept athlete who freely participated in several different 
forms of sport, his happiest hours came from helping to pro- 
duce, write, and direct the camp shows. For one of these per- 
formances he prepared a burlesque of Bizet's opera Carmen, 
casting himself as the seductive gypsy cigarette girl! At other 
times he offered condensed versions of the more popular Gil- 
bert and Sullivan comic operas. He managed to inveigle his 
father into providing the cast with wigs, and for a production 
of Pinafore he even prevailed on his mother to allow the house- 


maid, Leila, to appear in the cast. One year he recruited his sister, 
Shirley, to play Yum-Yum in The Mikado. 

Already his capacity to arouse the interest of those around him 
in his musicmaking was exceptional. Soon after his thirteenth 
birthday, his father took him on a cruise through the Panama 
Canal. Aboard ship his piano music proved such a continual 
source of entertainment that the cruise director tried to get him to 
join his permanent staff. At another time, on a brief vacation 
in Florida, he once again was the center of interest with his 
lively piano playing. Even his father opposed though he was 
to Lenny's preoccupation with music began recruiting the boy 
to entertain at parties of business organizations or fraternal 
orders. Lenny's repertory consisted of pop tunes, show tunes, 
jazz, the classics topped off with what for a long time was his 
tour de force, an original melody played in the styles of many 
different composers from Bach and Mozart to Gershwin. 

In the summer of 1933, a Boston newspaper sponsored a 
music-information contest in which first prize was a baby-grand 
piano. The rules specified that contestants be sixteen years or 
older. Lenny was still a year from that minimum-age require- 
ment but the promise of at last owning a baby-grand piano 
proved too enticing to be resisted. He entered the competi- 
tion, falsifying his age on the entry blank. For weeks after 
that his conscience was tortured by this fraud, and at one of 
his piano lessons he broke down and confessed his guilt to his 
teacher. As it turned out he did not win the piano, being only 
the runner-up. His prize was a set of worthless piano music 
third-rate pieces and poor transcriptions which Lenny dumped 
with disgust. 

Musical experiences soon began to accumulate. He attended 
his first concert in 1934, a performance by Serge Rachmaninoff 
at Symphony Hall. Exciting though this event was and he 
still remembers each detail of Rachmaninoff's piano playing 
he heard another concert -that same year, though this time on 

the radio, which stirred him to his very marrow, and opened up 
new vistas of musical appreciation. This was a broadcast by the 
Boston Symphony conducted by Serge Koussevitzky, whose 
program included Serge Prokofiev's Classical Symphony and 
Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. This was Lenny's initia- 
tion into modern music. A brave new world of musical sound 
and experience stunned his senses and dazzled his imagination. 
"Until then," he says, "I never realized that music had a future. 
I always thought of it as something that had already been 
written." The witty unexpected leaps in melody, whimsical 
change of key, incongruous juxtaposition of tart harmonies and 
classical ones in the Prokofiev symphony made Lenny laugh 
out loud until his eyes smarted with tears and his chest ached 
with stabbing pains. After that came the searing dissonances 
and the primitive rhythms of Stravinsky's music. A strange 
kind of excitement, a kind of inner frenzy, seized and held 

He now began to seek out other scores by Stravinsky and 
Prokofiev, studied them, memorized them, grew to love them. 
The impact of this music on his development was immediately 
reflected as he went on to write a piano sonata in an avant- 
garde style. 

He started attending performances of the Boston Symphony 
at Symphony Hall more or less regularly, sometimes on a date. 
One evening the conductor, Serge Koussevitzky, received an 
ovation for a particularly stirring performance. Lenny remained 
silent and glum in his seat. His girl friend asked him if he 
had not liked the way Koussevitzky had played that particular 
work. "Not like it?" he replied body. "I loved it! That's the 
trouble. I'm just jealous of any man who can make that kind 
of music." 

This intense, feverish preoccupation with music; this continual 
excitement from making ever new discoveries among com- 
posers and compositions; this wonderful feeling of self-fulfill- 

mcnt from acquiring skill in playing the piano, reading a score, 
and putting musical thoughts down on paper all this might 
have spelled for Lenny a happy boyhood. Regrettably this was 
not the case. Within himself there might be complete harmony, 
but in his adjustment to his parents as far as music was con- 
cerned there was only discord. They were becoming increas- 
ingly concerned over the way music was dominating his life, 
habits, thoughts, interests. His father did not hesitate to speak 
his mind. Bitter arguments between him and Lenny became 
the rule of the household. 

Again and again, and with considerable heat, the father would 
insist that all this nonsense with music must be curtailed if 
not altogether stopped. Lenny, he insisted, must think seriously 
of finishing his schoolwork with flying colors, proceed to an 
outstanding college, and later on enter the family business. 
Lenny was no less vehement that he would never go into any 
business, that nothing and no one could stand in his way of 
becoming a musician. 

A musician? "What kind of a future is that for a sensible 
young man?" the father would ask in anguish. Did Lenny want 
to become one of those sad, harassed piano teachers whose 
life's mission was to drill recalcitrant pupils in scales and 
exercises for $1.00 or $2.00 a lesson? Did he aspire to play hack 
music with some hotel orchestra or jazz ensemble? Or did his 
ambition embrace the writing of esoteric music something like 
that crazy-sounding piano sonata he had just finished music 
nobody heard and nobody played? "Oh, yes!" the father 
would continue to press his arguments "it's all very fine if 
you are a Koussevitzky, a Toscanini, a Heifetz, or a Rach- 
maninoff. I know these men do very well for themselves. But 
how many Koussevitzkys, Toscaninis, Heifetzes, or Rachmani- 
noff s are there around anyway?" Did Lenny, even in his wild- 
est dreams, think he was one of them? Except for the immor- 
tals, summed up the father, a professional career in music in- 


vited only a lifetime of frustration, bitterness, futility, and 

And so, from one evening to another, the father tried argu- 
ment, persuasion, entreaty, orders, and anger to deflect Lenny 
from his music. When these failed he turned to more positive 
action. On one occasion he sternly announced he was discon- 
tinuing Lenny's allowance so that there might no longer be any 
money for piano lessons. But this strategy failed. Lenny went 
on to find a job after school hours playing the piano in a jazz 
band and thus earned enough to pay his teacher. After that, 
the father wrote long, appealing letters to Helen Coates to do 
what she could to discourage the boy's absorption with music. 
But Helen Coates refused to be a partner to such a conspiracy 
and turned a deaf ear to these entreaties. By now she was not 
only convinced of Lenny's immense talent and potential but 
also of the complete futility of trying to arrest the oceanic 
surge of his enthusiasm for music. 

After Lenny had become world-famous, his father insisted to 
an interviewer that it was not so much from music study that 
he had tried so hard to keep his son as from trying to make a 
living out of music. "From the early i6th century, my family 
never made a livelihood in art, and I didn't want to break .this 
tradition," he said. "I also felt Lenny could make a better living 
in business. Remember there was no Leonard Bernstein then. 
There might not be another Leonard Bernstein for a .thousand 
years. I'm very proud of Lenny, but the Talmud teaches us, 
'Don't expect miracles.' Because God blessed the world with a 
Leonard Bernstein, it doesn't mean his parents should expect it. 
You don't expect your child to be a Moses, a Maimonides, a 
Leonard Bernstein. If I had to do it all over again, Pd do the 
same thing/' 

In 1935, Lenny was graduated from the Boston Latin School 
with honors. In academic achievement he was in the top ten 


per cent of his class. In his musical accomplishment he was 
alone, for he was the proud composer of the graduating-class 
song. The next stop was Harvard. A truce had finally been ef- 
fected between father and son. The former promised that, for 
the time being, he would adopt a laissez-faire policy toward 
Lenny's music on the condition that Lenny continued doing 
well with his schoolwork at Harvard. A final decision about 
his future whether in business or in music could wait until 
he had completed college. However, if Lenny still wanted to 
continue his piano study, he would have to find the money for 
his lessons himself. Lenny found that money by teaching chil- 
dren the piano for $1.00 an hour. In one special case, where the 
family had three children studying the piano, he accepted them 
for $2.00 a lesson with supper thrown in for good measure. 



"One of the most mysterious 
and deeply moving 

The four years at Harvard were filled with music. 
Some of Lenny's fellow students used to remark wryly that at 
times no note of music was sounded anywhere in Cambridge 
without his having had some share in its making. 

In the classroom he was always a good, and at times a brilliant, 
student brilliant in languages, philosophy, and music. His 
music study at Harvard embraced counterpoint and theory 
(his first formal training in these subjects) and music history 
with professors such as Walter Piston, Arthur Tillman Merritt, 
and Edward Burlingame Hill. 

Extracurricular musical activities were many and varied. He 
had passed from Helen Coates' fastidious and extremely valu- 
able piano instruction to that of Heinrich Gebhard, who now 
subjected him to a severe, but to Bernstein's tastes a highly 
palatable, diet of modern music, including such taxing works as 
Ravel's G major Piano Concerto (later to become one of Bern- 
stein's particular specialities as pianist-conductor) and Aaron 
Copland's Piano Variations. Though Bernstein's ambition at the 
time was the concert stage, he was not neglecting creative work; 
in 1936 he completed some smaller pieces for the piano. 

Where there was music, there, too, was Lenny. He appeared 
as soloist with both the college orchestra and the Massachusetts 
State Orchestra, the latter a WPA organization giving con- 
certs in Cambridge. He was piano accompanist for the college 
glee club. He wrote music, helped stage, and performed in, 
several College Day japes. He was the pianist for programs of 
silent motion pictures presented by a student film club. 

Those silent-film piano accompaniments made a profound 
impression on those who heard them, both for Bernstein's al- 
ready remarkable technical facility and for his extraordinary 
and unorthodox choice of compositions. Irving Fine, now him- 
self a distinguished American composer but in the late 1930*8 
Bernstein's fellow student at Harvard, recalled in Modern 
Music: "I remember with great nostalgia his appearance as 
piano accompanist at a series of historical films presented by 
the Harvard Film Society. The Battleship Potemfyn rode at 
anchor to the accompaniment of Copland's Piano Variations, 
excerpts from Stravinsky's Petrouch\a, and Bernstein's own 
paraphrases of Russian folk songs." 

As a member of the Harvard Music Club, Bernstein gave fre- 
quent performances at its concerts. Sometimes he was called 
on at the last moment to substitute for a young artist unable 
to make his scheduled appearance. "Many . . . programs," 
adds Irving Fine, "would have been lost if Bernstein had not 
been willing to tackle, almost at sight, anything from the 
Stravinsky Concerto for Two Solo Pianos to a work by one of 
his fellow students. At these club meetings he performed some 
of his own earlier essays." 

As if these activities were not enough to absorb his seemingly 
indefatigable energies, he was also writing music criticisms. His 
earliest piece of critical writing appeared in The Advocate, a 
college literary magazine for which he reviewed a Boston Sym- 
phony concert conducted by Koussevitzky. In 1938-1939, Bern- 
stein also contributed reports to Modern Music, a quarterly re- 


view published in New York as the organ of the League of 
Composers. "Dr. Koussevitzky," he wrote in one of these pieces, 
"has had a great festival of brand new American works right 
at the fifty-yard line of the season." Apparently Bernstein's 
later flair for combining musical comment and analysis with the 
figures-of-speech of an undergraduate is already in evidence! 

Even in summer, away from Harvard, Bernstein continued 
making music. Some were spent at Onota, where his main job 
was to put on stage productions. At times he was called on to 
perform sundry other musical duties as well. One day in 1937 
the management asked Bernstein to provide the musical back- 
ground at the piano during dinner on Visitors Day. After the 
parents had filed into the dining room and were about to par- 
take of their meal, Bernstein quietly announced from his piano: 
"Ladies and gentlemen. This summer a great American com- 
poser died George Gershwin. Let's pay him the tribute of not 
talking or eating, but just listening reverently to one of his 
compositions." Bernstein then played the Piano Concerto in F, 
oblivious to the embarrassment of the camp guests as they 
squirmed in front of a meal rapidly getting cold on the table! 
From then on, the project of having Bernstein play on Visitors 
Day was discreetly abandoned. 

In his last year at Harvard, Bernstein was either a participant 
in or entirely responsible for two important musical events. 
One was a production of Aristophanes* The Birds, put on by 
the Harvard Classical Club, for which Bernstein wrote the in- 
cidental music. Upon the presentation of this Greek drama 
in Cambridge on April 21 and 22, 1939, Bernstein conducted 
the orchestra, his first such experience. 

Even more ambitious was Bernstein's production of Marc 
Blitzstein's opera (or musical play) The Cradle Will Rocf^. 
This provocative social drama with music (for which Blitz- 
stein wrote not only the music but also the text and lyrics) con- 
cerned attempts by steelworkers to create a union in a fictitious 


American city, and the nefarious methods by which powerful 
business groups tried to stifle this undertaking. The Cradle 
Witt Roc{ was first produced in New York in 1937 under 
dramatic and controversial circumstances. It was a production 
of the Federal Theater Project, supported by the U.S. Govern- 
ment. Because of the play's pronounced left-wing social view- 
points, it aroused considerable opposition in government circles 
who wanted the production banned. Just before the premiere 
performance, all support for the play was suddenly withdrawn 
in Washington. The right to use the costumes, the sets, and the 
orchestra was, consequently, denied. Rather than call off this 
performance, Orson Welles (the director) and John Houseman 
(the producer) decided to transfer the audience to a nearby 
theater and offer their play in oratorio style. The performers, 
dressed in their everyday clothes, were seated in several rows 
on the bare stage. When required to perform they stepped to 
the footlights. Marc Elitzstein, seated at the piano on the 
stage, played the score and made between-the-scene verbal 
comments on what was taking place. 

Bernstein liked the play, and he was even more partial to 
Blitzstein's fresh, exciting marriage of popular tunes, parodies, 
and patter songs to sophisticated harmonic and contrapuntal 
approaches. When the Boston police refused permission for 
the performance of The Cradle Will Rocl( in that city, Bern- 
stein decided to put it on exactly as it had been done in New 
York. The Boston constabulary could not interfere since Har- 
vard was off-limits to them. Bernstein became director and 
co-ordinator of the whole production. He also took over Blitz- 
stein's job of playing the music at the piano and making illumi- 
nating comments between the scenes. The performance proved 
an overwhelming success. The critics were rhapsodic both about 
the play and the performance, with Bernstein himself coming 
in for a lion's share of attention for his courage and initiative 


in having put on the production, and for the sound musical 
and dramatic values he brought to it. 

This was Bernstein's first success as a performing musician. 
The sweet music of thunderous audience applause and sing- 
ing praises of the critics convinced him that whatever his future 
in music might be, that future would have to be in the public 
eye, in communication with an audience. Reaching out to 
people through music, he later told an interviewer, was "one 
of the most mysterious and deeply moving experiences you can 
have." Now, on the eve of leaving both Harvard and his aca- 
demic life, Bernstein knew decisively that it was toward such 
an experience that he must henceforth direct himself. 

At Harvard, Bernstein came into personal contact with several 
musicians with whom he would henceforth maintain a close 
association. One was Marc Blitzstein, who had come to Boston 
to hear Bernstein's performance of The Cradle Will RocJ^ and 
who was stunned by the authority and penetration of the 
young man's interpretation. They were drawn to each other 
not merely by a profound professional respect but also by their 
mutual interest in progressive social and political ideas. Again 
and again, later in his career, Bernstein would give striking 
performances of Blitzstein's music. When Bernstein's first child 
was born, Marc Blitzstein was its godfather. 

Aaron Copland, sometimes described as the "dean of Ameri- 
can composers," was another musician with whom Bernstein 
had personal associations at Harvard for the first time, and of 
whose music he subsequently became a most significant inter- 
preter. Through a Harvard philosophy professor, a Copland 
admirer, Copland's music was brought to Bernstein's attention. 
Its immense technical skill and its freshness of musical thought 
and idiom impressed Bernstein deeply and immediately so 
much so that he was now led to study the Piano Variations with 


Gebhard. When Copland visited Harvard in 1937, a mutual ac- 
quaintance brought them together. They hit it off at once. 

But of all the professional musicians encountered by Bern- 
stein at college none had a more decisive impact on his future 
than Dimitri Mitropoulos. Mitropoulos was a Greek-born con- 
ductor who in 1935 had made a remarkable American debut 
as guest conductor of the Boston Symphony. In January 1937 
he returned to Boston for more guest appearances. A tea was 
given in his honor one Sunday afternoon by the Harvard Hel- 
lenic Society at the Phillips Brook House. Bernstein had planned 
spending that day studying for his examinations, but when in- 
vited to meet Mitropoulos in the flesh his good intentions were 

On arriving at the reception, Bernstein found the room over- 
flowing with people, with Mitropoulos helplessly engulfed by 
a mass of admirers. For a long while Bernstein failed to approach 
him. But when some of the guests had departed, Bernstein 
was formally introduced to the conductor. They engaged at 
once in an extended conversation in which Bernstein told 
Mitropoulos of some of his musical interests and his hopes for 
the future. Mitropoulos then invited Bernstein to play for him. 
Bernstein performed a Chopin nocturne, and after that the last 
movement of his own piano sonata "horribly" as he now re- 
calls. But apparently Mitropoulos was impressed, for he invited 
Bernstein to attend his rehearsals with the Boston Symphony 
that week. 

These were the first rehearsals by a great conductor attended 
by Bernstein, and they proved a cataclysmic experience. The 
hypnotic effect of conductor on orchestra; his penetrating in- 
sight into the music he was rehearsing; his immense musician- 
ship and infallible taste all this provided Bernstein for the first 
time with an understanding of the functions of a conductor. 
Bernstein now saw the conductor as he really was: a virtuoso 
of virtuosos; the supreme musical interpreter performing on 

the most complex musical instrument in the world, the sym- 
phony orchestra. 

It is more than probable that, as Bernstein sat there in the 
empty, half-dark auditorium, it was now that he was fired for 
the first time with the ambition of becoming a conductor. If 
such a hope hovered for a while on the fringes of his sub- 
conscious, it did not remain there long. One day that week, 
while Bernstein was having lunch with Mitropoulos, the con- 
ductor playfully referred to him as a "genius boy" and seriously 
urged him to consider a career in conducting. This was the 
first time that such a suggestion was made to Bernstein. That 
it came from someone like Mitropoulos meant it could not be 
received lightly or readily dismissed from his thoughts. 

What Bernstein saw and heard during those rehearsals had 
an effect on him far more profound and permanent than perhaps 
he suspects even now. One of the works Mitropoulos conducted 
was Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C major. From the be- 
ginning of his professional career as conductor, Bernstein was 
partial to this masterwork and has performed it frequently. 
Another composition rehearsed by Mitropoulos was Malipiero's 
Piano Concerto, in which Mitropoulos himself was soloist, while 
conducting the accompaniment from the piano. Bernstein has 
also often filled the dual role of pianist-conductor. Finally, in 
his conducting Mitropoulos was given to extravagant gestures 
of body and hands. It is surely not beyond the realm of possi- 
bility that here, too, Bernstein was paying Mitropoulos that 
highest of all tributes, imitation, when in his own performances 
he indulged in similarly flamboyant mannerisms. 


"There was no place for me" 

When Leonard Bernstein was graduated from 
Harvard with cum laude in music, in June 1939, he had good 
reason to have faith in his talent for music. He had repeatedly 
inspired nothing but the highest admiration and the most un- 
qualified enthusiasm for his gifts: his extraordinary memory 
and ear; his facile ability to read even the most complex piece 
of music as if it were fiction; his aptitude at translating at the 
piano any opera or orchestral score; his articulateness in putting 
down on paper his musical thoughts. Dimitri Mitropoulos, 
Aaron Copland, Marc Blitzstein, William Schuman, Roy Har- 
ris, Walter Piston, Heinrich Gebhard redoubtable musicians 
all of them! were only a few of many who had prognosticated 
for him a most fruitful career in music. 

Sure though he may have been of his musical endowments, 
he was far less confident of his purpose and direction. Whither 
Lenny? Now that his academic study had been completed and 
with it his piano instruction with Heinrich Gebhard was termi- 
natedhe had to ask himself repeatedly: "Whither Lenny?" 
He had by now abandoned the dream of storming the citadels 
of Carnegie Hall as a piano virtuoso, and had begun to think 
of himself primarily as a composer. Yet nothing he had thus 
far written had either been published or performed in a formal 
concert auditorium. How, then, could he have any assurance 

that he could make a name for himself through his creative 
work? And even i he had such assurance, how could he pos- 
sibly earn his living while waiting for recognition? 

There had been a particularly stormy session at home soon 
after Lenny's graduation. His father offered to take him into 
his business and start him off at $100 a week. Lenny's immediate 
and unhesitating response was that he would not take the job if 
the salary were ten times that amount. He would never for- 
get the time when, one dismal summer when he was sixteen, 
he had worked for about a month as shipping clerk in his 
father's establishment. Faced by Lenny's recalcitrance, the 
father made it perfectly plain that from this point on all finan- 
cial support would be withdrawn. 

Lenny knew he would have to brush the dust of Boston from 
his shoes, that now was the time for him to find a place for 
himself in New York's rich musical life. 

He arrived in New York early that summer of 1939, in Ms 
pocket enough money to see him through for a few weeks. He 
found a cheap furnished room on East Ninth Street in an apart- 
ment occupied by two young men. One was Adolph Green, 
whom Bernstein first met one summer several years earlier at 
Camp Onota, to which Green had come as a visitor. At that 
time Bernstein had recruited Green to appear as the Pirate 
King in his production of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic 
opera, The Pirates of Penzance. They became fast friends. 
Bernstein liked Green's sharp intellect and ready gift for wit, 
satire, parody, and burlesque. And Green, himself a lover of 
good music, was in awe of Bernstein's talent 

On coming to New York, then, Adolph Green was one of 
the first persons Bernstein contacted, and Lenny was delighted 
to learn he could make his home in Green's apartment. In the 
summer of 1939, Green was working in a night-club act called 
"The Revuers" one of its members being Betty Comden (later 
Green's successful collaborator in writing lyrics for songs and 


texts for musical comedies), and another, Judy Holliday (sub- 
sequently star of the Broadway stage and Hollywood screen). 
"The Revuers" was featured in a Greenwich Village night 
spot, The Vanguard, where they sang sophisticated songs 
written collaboratively by Green and Betty Comden. 

Having found a place to live, Bernstein wasted no time in 
trying to find a job. This did not prove as easy as it had first 
appeared. To get any kind of employment as pianist he had 
to join the Musicians Union, and one of the requirements for 
membership was a six-months period of residence in New 
York. Without a job, Lenny decided to linger on in New York 
as long as his meager funds allowed. Perhaps something would 
turn up. 

He was neither idle nor alone. On a few occasions he played 
the piano (without pay) for "The Revuers" at the Village 
Vanguard. They even made at the time a recording of a whim- 
sical piece, "The Girl with Two Left Feet" now a cherished 
collector's item. Many an evening Lenny could be found up- 
town in a twenty-five-cent seat at the Lewisohn Stadium, where 
symphony concerts were given under famous orchestras. Bern- 
stein drank in the music, all the while allowing himself the 
luxury of lapsing into a euphoric state in which he envisioned 
himself as a professional musician performing before audiences. 
Some evenings were spent with Aaron Copland at Copland's 
apartment in stimulating conversations. Then there were the 
parties to which Green took Lenny, where Lenny helped enter- 
tain the guests at the piano. He delighted them particularly 
with the comical way in which, while playing the Ravel G 
major Piano Concerto in all seriousness, he would suddenly and 
unexpectedly shift to Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime 
Band." Late one night Betty Comden went home from one of 
these parties to awaken her mother and tell her about Bernstein's 
performance. "I met a real genius," she said excitedly. Harold 
Clurman, founder of the famous Group Theater in New York 


(nursery for such distinguished men of the stage as Clifford 
Odets, the playwright, Elia Kazan, the director, and John Gar- 
field, the actor) was another who fell in love with Bernstein's 
informal performances. "Lenny," he would say, "is hopelessly 
fated for success." 

Such a glowing prophecy surely must have had a hollow ring 
to a young man who saw his money disappearing rapidly with- 
out hope for replenishment, who could find no work anywhere. 
"There was just no place for me." For all the gay parties, for all 
the kind words of friends and acquaintances, the summer of 
I 939 was a P er id of sheer misery. He drifted into a state of de- 
pression. With just about enough money left to take him 
back to Boston, he was ready to concede defeat, to reconcile 
himself to the fact that he would have to work for his father 
if he were not to starve. "I went home with my tail between 
my knees." 



"It seemed the most natural 
thing in the world for me 
to be conducting" 

Hardly had Bernstein returned to Boston when 
he heard from a friend that Dimitri Mitropoulos, en route to 
Europe, was at that moment stopping at the Biltmore Hotel 
in New York. Suddenly Mitropoulos represented to Bernstein 
his last hope for a career in music, his last avenue of escape 
from the business world he detested. Surely Mitropoulos, who 
in the past had been so encouraging, would find a way to help 
him! Lenny borrowed some money and took the first train 
back to New York. At the Biltmore he poured out his heart 
to Mitropoulos. 

Mitropoulos agreed with Bernstein that to give up music was 
unthinkable, reaffirming his conviction that Bernstein had the 
makings of a fine conductor. But, Mitropoulos added, what 
Bernstein now needed was some specialized training. The 
veteran conductor stood ready to use his influence in getting 
an audition for him at the Curtis Institute of Music in Phila- 
delphia, one of the country's most renowned music schools 
even though enrollment for the coming semester was over. 
Mitropoulos was convinced that an intensive period of study 
with Fritz Reiner, the distinguished conductor and one of 

America's leading teachers of conducting would give Bern- 
stein that background and technique he would need to embark 
on a professional career with the baton. And Reiner was the 
head of the conducting department at Curtis. As for finances 
. . . Mitropoulos was sure that on his say-so Bernstein could 
get a scholarship. In addition, the conductor was willing to 
provide the young man with a small, but regular, stipend to 
help defray living expenses. 

The week-end before his scheduled audition with Reiner at 
Curtis, Bernstein spent with Aaron Copland in the country, at 
Woodstock, New York. That brief holiday further boosted 
Lenny's morale, for Copland was as sure as Mitropolous had 
been that Bernstein would have no trouble in convincing 
Reiner to give him a scholarship; and also like Mitropoulos, 
Copland felt that Bernstein's forte in music lay in conducting. 
But that week-end proved far less beneficial to Bernstein's 
health. Ever victimized by his allergies, Bernstein left Wood- 
stock for Philadelphia stricken by a severe attack brought on 
by contacts with Copland's household pet, a cat. Lenny arrived 
for his interview with Reiner not only tense with anxiety, but 
also with a swollen face and with fits of coughing and sneezing. 

Fritz Reiner invited Bernstein to read at the piano, at sight, 
the orchestral score of Brahms' Academic Festival Overture. 
This proved such child's play for Lenny that Reiner was led to 
inquire if Bernstein had not previously studied that music 
thoroughly. Convinced that this performance had been unre- 
hearsed, Reiner did not hesitate to accept Bernstein as his pupil 
and to arrange a scholarship for him. 

Leonard Bernstein entered the Curtis Institute in the fall of 
1939 and remained there until June 1941. Life now might often 
prove stimulating and exciting for Bernstein, but it was by no 
means easy. While he did not have to pay for tuition, neverthe- 
less the meager allowance doled out to him permitted only the 
barest essentials of living. A small, stuffy furnished room in a 


boarding house was his home all the time he stayed in Phila- 
delphia. Most of his meals were taken at nearby drugstore 
counters. There was no money for clothes, luxuries, or tickets 
to theater or concerts. His only diversion apart from playing 
the piano and reading scores came from visiting the studios 
of friends where impromptu parties blossomed on Saturday 
evenings and Sunday afternoons. Conversations and discussions 
were provocative. On Sundays they would often listen to the 
broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic and argue hotly the 
pros and cons of the music they had heard and of the way it 
was played. As heretofore, Bernstein was a prolific contributor 
to the gaiety of these social gatherings with his piano playing. 
What he now liked to do particularly was to present ridiculous 
little parodies of his own writing. He would sing them at the 
top of his voice to his own witty piano accompaniment often 
breaking up his performances with his own fits of uncontrolled 

Besides attending Reiner's conducting class, Bernstein studied 
piano with Isabella Vengerova. She was a tyrant who was im- 
patient with Lenny's tendency at the time to lose himself so 
passionately and completely in the music he was playing that he 
often lost all objectivity and capacity for self-criticism. He was 
(truth to tell) often in terror of her strict regimen so severe 
was she in her criticisms, so unrelenting in her discipline, so 
exacting in her demands on students. But Lenny did not hesitate 
to acknowledge that these lessons with Mme. Vengerova were 
the necessary finishing touches in making him a pianist of con- 
cert caliber. 

Reiner's class in conducting was for Lenny an unadulterated 
joy. His first experience in conducting an orchestra (other than 
his performance at Harvard when he led his own music for 
Aristophanes' The Birds) came during his first term at Curtis. 
Reiner asked him to lead the Curtis Institute Orchestra in a 
performance of Randall Thompson's Second Symphony. At 


the time Thompson was not only an outstanding American 
composer but also the director of Curtis Institute, and Bern- 
stein's teacher there in orchestration. "I was scared, tremend- 
ously scared," Bernstein recalls. But by the time he mounted 
the podium he knew the music so thoroughly that he could 
absorb himself completely with his performance, which delighted 
Thompson no end. Bernstein's reaction to this first important 
attempt at directing an orchestra was: "It then seemed the 
most natural thing in the world for me to be conducting." 

One of Bernstein's assignments in Reiner's class was to prepare 
an orchestral composition of his own choosing for performance 
at the piano. For some unexplained reason he never quite got 
around to doing this exercise. On the day he was required to 
do this chore in class he rushed into the school library and 
hastily picked off the shelves the first available score Beeth- 
hoven's Coriolanus Overture. In class he dashed the music off 
at sight with such ease and musicianship that fellow students 
insisted he was "putting on an act," refusing to believe he had 
done this without preparation. Their skepticism and even 
antagonism were not completely dissipated until Bernstein was 
able to demonstrate time and again, during the next few 
months, how easy it was for him to read orchestral scores at 
the piano. Fritz Reiner, who described him as a "human gyro- 
scope," went on to say that Lenny was "the most talented, all 
around student I ever had." 

Each summer there took place one of America's most impor- 
tant music festivals in Lenox, Massachusetts, on the grounds 
of Tanglewood which had been the setting of Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne's famous Tanglewood Tales. The annual Berkshire Sym- 
phonic Festival, as it was called, was dominated by the person- 
ality of Serge Koussevitzky, music director of the Boston Sym- 
phony. By this time Koussevitzky was something of a legend 
in music circles, by virtue of his genius as an interpreter of 


symphonic music, of his lifelong dedication to and sponsorship 
of modern music, and of his electrifying personality. He was 
the man who, after having become one of the world's foremost 
virtuosos on the double bass, had founded, financed, and con- 
ducted his own symphony orchestra in Moscow. He presented 
monumental festivals in Moscow that became the main artistic 
events of that city. On his programs some of the most brilliant 
of the younger Russian composers found a sympathetic hearing, 
while die music of modern Europeans was being introduced to 
Russian audiences for the first time. On several occasions, Kous- 
sevitzky chartered a steamer and traveled with his orchestra 
on the Volga, stopping off to give concerts in villages and 
hamlets which had never before heard a symphony concert. 
Then, after making history in Russia, he went to Paris, where 
he organized the Concerts Koussevitzky whose programs were 
among the most exciting and progressive heard in the French 
capital. In 1924 Koussevitzky was appointed music director of 
the Boston Symphony. Under his dynamic, inspiring leader- 
ship this renowned orchestra entered on one of its richest epochs, 
while the American composer had come upon something of a 
patron saint. Since 1936, Koussevitzky had been directing the 
Boston Symphony in summer festival performances that at- 
tracted to Tanglewood music lovers from all parts of the 

In the summer of 1940 Koussevitzky added something new 
to Tanglewood, something which represented for him the ful- 
fillment of a life's dream. This was the Berkshire Music Center, 
a school where gifted musical students could receive summer 
training in the performing and creative phases of music; where 
they could mingle and exchange ideas and experiences with 
trained musicians and established composers both in the class- 
room and less formally on the festival grounds. A six-week 
course in conducting, instrumental performance, composition, 
and voice was announced for the summer of 1940. Three hun- 


dred gifted young men and women came to Tanglewood, many 
already graduates of leading conservatories, a few even about 
to fill important music posts. 

Under Koussevitzky's over-all direction, the Music Center 
became at once a unique school of music. Students remained on 
the grounds of Tanglewood all day, practicing on their instru- 
ments in special rooms assigned for that purpose; or else they 
worked quietly on their lessons while sprawling on the grass. 
The teachers could usually be found on the grounds at the 
service of any pupil momentarily stumped by some technical 
or esthetic problem. A student in composition might be sitting 
under a tree working on an original piece of music. Aaron 
Copland, passing by, would glance over his shoulder and possibly 
then and there make some practical suggestions. Or an instru- 
mentalist might be practicing when a first-desk man of the 
Boston Symphony would stop off and offer pertinent criticism. 
Instrumentalists joined chamber music groups and the student 
orchestra; singers were trained to perform in operas, scenes of 
operas, oratorios, and other choral music; composers had their 
works performed; student conductors were given opportunities 
to practice on and give concerts with the student orchestra. 

The conducting class, personally supervised by Koussevitzky, 
was of course closest to his heart. Some forty students among 
them several who already had posts with established orchestras 
received both theoretical and practical guidance. Classroom lec- 
tures formed one part of this curriculum. Each student was also 
expected to rehearse the student orchestra several times a semes- 
ter. He was given a week's notice in which to prepare some given 
work, and then to rehearse it as if for an actual performance. 
These young conductors were by no means pampered by assign- 
ments consisting of thrice-familiar symphonies, suites, or over- 
tures. They were often assigned highly difficult, sometimes even 
esoteric, modern compositions. As these young conductors 
worked on this music with the orchestra, Koussevitzky stood 


at their elbows with valuable advice on baton technique, plat- 
form behavior, technical and esthetic problems posed by the 
composition being rehearsed, and the most efficient way of 
instructing the members of the orchestra in solving these prob- 
lems. All pupil conductors were expected to attend Kousse- 
vitzky's own rehearsals with the Boston Symphony, and the 
concerts as well They were also encouraged to be present at 
as many of the lectures, discussions, and student performances 
taking place on the Tanglewood grounds as possible. 

When the opening of this music school was first announced, 
Koussevitzky also publicized the fact that he was ready to take 
on five students on a scholarship basis and help prepare them 
for a professional career. Fritz Reiner's enthusiastic recommen- 
dation of Bernstein brought him to Tanglewood as one of the 

That summer of 1940 was probably one of the happiest periods 
in Bernstein's life up to that time. To move in a musical setting; 
to work at, talk about, participate in music all his waking hours; 
to be continually in the presence of, and exchange vital ideas 
with, inspiring people like Koussevitzky, Copland, and Paul 
Hindemith (the last, also a member of the faculty, one of the 
greatest composers of the 20th century) all this was an experi- 
ence for Lenny to relish with the delight of a gourmet savoring 
the taste of Napoleon brandy on the tip of his tongue. 

Perhaps the most significant result of that wonderful sum- 
mer in Tanglewood for Bernstein was the bond that developed 
early and stayed on permanently between himself and Kous- 
sevitzky. Bernstein has never hesitated to acknowledge all that 
he owes to this great Russian maestro. Koussevitzky's genius 
as conductor, his imperious and dominating personality, his 
wholehearted dedication to the highest principles of his art, his 
passion for modern music all had an inescapable impact 00 
Bernstein. For a long time Bernstein modeled himself after 

Koussevitzky, even to the point of imitating some of that con- 
ductor's more obvious conducting mannerisms. Lenny could 
hardly have found a worthier model. 

At that, the reactions and attitudes of Koussevitzky toward 
Lenny were unusual for him. He was not the man to give 
of himself and his love unsparingly; he preferred to surround 
himself with an impenetrable wall of reserve. Yet "Lenyushka" 
(as Koussevitzky always called him) became for the older man 
something of an adopted son to pamper and spoil and love and 
boast about. 

As a man, as well as a conductor, Koussevitzky was an auto- 
crat who demanded uncompromising allegiance. Intolerant of 
disagreement or criticism of any kind, he was easy to enrage and 
difficult to placate. Bernstein was one of the few (if not the 
only one) who could express a sharp difference of opinion with 
Koussevitzky and receive, in place of a cyclonic outburst of anger, 
only a gentle, understanding smile. Once while discussing Bern- 
stein's future as a conductor, Koussevitzky urged him to change 
his name. Who ever heard of a "Leonard Bernstein" conducting 
a great orchestra like the Boston Symphony, Koussevitzky 
asked. Expediency would certainly dictate that Bernstein assume 
a euphonious, perhaps a Europeanized, name that would set 
well with symphony audiences. Bernstein told Koussevitzky 
firmly that if he were to achieve a successful career as a con- 
ductor it must come to him under the name with which he was 
born; he refused to travel to fame under a false identity. It is 
doubtful if ever before or since anyone vetoed one of Kous- 
sevitzky's practical suggestions so decisively without losing the 
master's favor. 

Koussevitzky was, of course, impressed by Lenny's talent, 
demonstrations of which were without parallel at the Berkshire 
Music Center that summer. But what perhaps attracted Kous- 
sevitzky to Bernstein even more strongly was the young man's 

4 1 

expansive and penetrating intelligence in so many areas outside 
of music. Koussevitzky loved to engage him in all kinds o dis- 
cussions. He enjoyed Lenny's supreme self-confidence, his ex- 
citement over each of his enthusiasms, his continual challenges 
to authority and tradition. Lenny's fresh wit was for him a per- 
petual source of amusement. 

When Bernstein returned to the Berkshire Music Center for 
a second semester in the summer of 1941 (after receiving his 
diploma that June from Curtis Institute) , he was once again a 
member of Koussevitzky's class in conducting. But this time he 
was recognized as Koussevitzky's protege. It was rumored that 
Koussevitzky was seriously thinking of grooming the young 
man as his successor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 
any event, Koussevitzky began giving Bernstein increasingly 
ambitious assignments at Tanglewood. "Ah, Lenyushka," he 
said one time, "it is time for you to conduct choeur!" (By 
"choeur" Koussevitzky meant a major work for chorus and 
orchestra.) The choice finally fell on a huge, ambitious modern 
work in a jazz idiom: Constant Lambert's Rio Grande, for 
chorus, orchestra, and solo piano, based on a poem by Sach- 
everell Sitwell. 

Bernstein's last rehearsal of Rio Grande took place on the 
afternoon immediately preceding the actual evening concert. 
One of those attending that rehearsal was the famous Broadway 
actress, Tallulah Bankhead, who became so enraptured with 
Bernstein's performance that when he finished she insisted he 
come to her nearby summer cottage for dinner. She even re- 
fused to wait for him to change his informal rehearsal outfit, 
which had consisted of dungarees and a basque shirt. 

Dinner with Tallulah made Bernstein lose all sense of time. 
When he looked at his watch he saw to his horror that it was 
almost eight o'clock. The evening's concert was to begin in a 
quarter of an hour. Fortunately, his contribution to the program 
his performance of Rio Grande did not come until the second 

half of the program. Even so, there was no time to lose. He 
was rushed by Tallulah's limousine to his room for a quick 
change of clothes, and from there he was hurriedly brought to the 
concert hall. He arrived only a few minutes before he had to 
mount the conductor's platform. 



"This was my Valley Forge" 

By the fall of 1941 Bernstein had completed all 
his formal music study. This was hardly a source of exhilaration. 
"In a way I was worse off than before. I was a trained conductor. 
But who hired kid conductors? And if I could not earn a 
living conducting, then how? I was twenty-three. And I had 
nowhere to go." 

After the Berkshire Music Center closed for the season in 
August, Koussevitzky urged Bernstein to return to Boston, hop- 
ing to find some opportunities for Lenny to prove himself to 
the public. Koussevitzky was thinking of having Bernstein play 
the world premiere of a new piano concerto by Carlos Chavez 
(Mexico's foremost contemporary composer) on a program for 
which Chavez had been invited that season to appear as guest 
conductor of the Boston Symphony. Koussevitzky also planned 
to have Bernstein conduct one or two concerts of the Boston 

But in Boston Bernstein confronted only disappointment and 
frustration. At that time the Boston Symphony was involved in 
a bitter war with the American Federation of Musicians, the 
Boston Symphony then being one of the few important Ameri- 
can orchestras not yet unionized. James Caesar Petrillo, presi- 
dent of the Federation, had decided the time had come to com- 
pel the orchestra to enter the Union fold. No member of the 


Musicians Union was henceforth to be permitted to appear 
with the Boston Symphony in any capacity whatsoever. Since 
both Chavez and Bernstein were union members their pro- 
jected engagements with that orchestra had to be canceled. (The 
irony of this situation did not escape Bernstein. In New York, 
Bernstein had been unable to get a job because at that time 
he had not yet become a member of the Musicians Union, while 
now in Boston he could not get work because he was a mem- 

Once again Bernstein's father put severe pressure on Lenny 
to enter the family business, and once again Lenny's resistance 
was iron. In an effort to earn some desperately needed money, 
Bernstein opened a small piano studio on Huntington Avenue 
in Boston. "I did the usual things. I sent out announcements, 
and waited for results. Nobody came. Nobody!" The main 
reason for this was that Bernstein had opened his studio on 
December 5, 1941. Two days later the Japanese bombed Pearl 
Harbor. America was suddenly at war. Its young people and 
their parents had other thoughts to occupy them than piano 

Soon after Pearl Harbor, Bernstein tried to enlist in the 
Army. He was summarily turned down because of his con- 
genital asthma, a disappointment he felt so keenly that on 
returning home he fell onto the living-room couch and burst 
into tears. Since there was simply no other place for him to 
go, he lingered on in Boston. He played the piano at some 
benefit concerts, organized a few musical events at the Institute 
of Modern Art, including a performance of Copland's little 
school opera, The Second Hurricane. What he earned was not 
enough to keep him even in pocket money. 

He kept busy by practicing the piano industriously and doing 
some creative work. Since his personal contacts with Paul Hin- 
demith at the Berkshire Music Center had aroused his in- 
terest in that composer's music and individual style, Bernstein 


now tried writing a sonata for clarinet and piano in Hinde- 
mith's neoclassical idiom. That sonata later became Bernstein's 
first published composition. Meanwhile it was also the first 
of his works to receive a public performance. This took place 
at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston on April 21, 1942, 
with David Glazer playing the clarinet part, and Bernstein at 
the piano. 

The winter of 1941 and the spring of 1942 found Bernstein 
often at Koussevitzky's home in Brookline, Massachusetts 
sometimes for lunch or tea, sometimes for an evening with 
other Koussevitzky friends. The Russian conductor never 
seemed to lose his delight in being in Lenny's company and 
in listening to his effervescent and often highly opinionated 
comments on whatever subject was up for discussion. Vernon 
Duke, in his autobiography Passport to Paris, recalls one such 
lunch in Brookline. Speaking of Bernstein he wrote: "He had 
singular and uncompromising views and was fond of airing 
them in ringing tones, punctuating his statements with a trium- 
phant smile; [Koussevitzky] thrived on that kind of talk from 
young people and was, in spite of his reputation for a colossal 
ego, a very good listener. 'Noo, noo, go on. . . .' He'd nudge 
Bernstein with a wink at me, and Lenny would plunge into 
boutade after boutade , . . obviously [regarding] his paradoxes 
as unshakable axioms." 

The summer of 1942 proved a welcome respite from his frustra- 
tions, for it brought Bernstein back to the congenial setting and 
the busy musical life of Tanglewood and the Berkshire Music 
Center. He was a student there no longer, but Koussevitzky's 
assistant both as a conductor of the Boston Symphony and as a 
teacher of conducting. That summer went all too quickly. 
Once again Bernstein's anxiety over his future seized him and 
made his blood within him freeze. This time he sidestepped 
Boston to try his luck once more in New York. He knew that 
if New York could not offer him an opening in music, then 
he would finally be compelled to go into business after all. 

He brought with him to New York several effusive letters 
of recommendation. One, from Koussevitzky, described him 
as "a conductor of outstanding talent in whose brilliant future 
I have great faith." A second, from Reiner, called him a "young 
musician of extraordinary talents." After renting a furnished 
room for $8.00 a week, he set forth in search of work any 
kind of work so long as it involved music and brought him 
a fee. He gave lessons in piano or voice for $1.00 an hour. 
(The sister of the silent motion-picture star, Ramon Novarro, 
hired him for some vocal coaching for $2.00 an hour.) Two 
dollars an hour was the price he was paid by ballet dancers for 
playing the piano at rehearsals. As part of his contribution to 
the war effort he visited Fort Dix and gave three concerts of 
boogie-woogie music for the soldiers, without remuneration, 
of course. He was kept busy but he could hardly make a 
living. More than one meal had to be skipped because he did 
not have the price. Frequently he fell far in arrears in paying 
his rent. On one occasion he had to send his father a frantic 
wire asking for $25.00 because, having failed to pay his rent 
for four weeks, he was about to be dispossessed. 

During the winter of 1942 his morale sank to its lowest level; 
he had arrived at the nadir of his depression. "Bad though the 
year before had been in Boston and it had been awful! I 
used to walk up and down Broadway and look upon it as 
heaven. God, how I was miserable in New York!" Again and 
again he would refer to this period as "my Valley Forge." The 
hack jobs as teacher and accompanist, the inability to get a hear- 
ing as a conductor or a composer, his never-ending tussle with 
finances all this scraped and grated on his nerve centers until 
at moments he felt he would be able to stand this mental tor- 
ture no longer. There were so many things he wanted to tell 
people through the medium of music, but nobody cared to 
listen. In those grim days he finally became convinced that 
there was no future for him as a musician. Perhaps for the first 
time he was ready to concede that his father had been right 


when he said that, in pursuing the mirage o success in music, 
Lenny would destroy himself both as a human being and as 
a musician. 

He was pondering this unhappy situation, and inwardly be- 
moaning his fate, one day while walking along Broadway. Sud- 
denly he came upon a casual acquaintance, Irving Caesar. 
Caesar was a successful song lyricist who had written the words 
for many outstanding popular songs including George Gersh- 
win's "Swanee" and Vincent Youmans' "Tea for Two." School- 
children everywhere are perhaps even more familiar with his 
name through his "Safety Songs." In any event, earlier that 
year, Caesar had come to Boston for the out-of-town tryouts 
of a musical comedy which starred Adolph Green and Betty 
Comden and for which he had written the lyrics. After the 
Boston premiere of this show, Green brought Bernstein to a 
party at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where Lenny was introduced 
to Caesar. As was habitual, Bernstein soon went over to the 
piano. Irving Caesar listened to him spellbound and at the time 
described Bernstein as "a genius." 

Apparently, Irving Caesar had forgotten neither Bernstein 
nor his informal performance at the Ritz-Carlton. As they 
crossed directions on Broadway, Caesar recognized him at once. 
When Bernstein told Caesar of his inability to get a job, the 
latter said he would help. And he did. A few days later, Caesar 
introduced Bernstein to Herman Starr, a power in the music- 
publishing business as the head of the Music Publishers Hold- 
ing Corporation, a combine of several famous popular-music 
publishing establishments. Starr hired Bernstein, at a salary of 
$25.00 a week, to work for Harms-Remick, a branch of the cor- 
poration. (Later on Starr also became Bernstein's publisher and 
business adviser.) Bernstein's job was to arrange popular songs 
for piano, two and four hands; to make band transcriptions; 
to put down on paper improvisations by such jazz men as Earl 
Hines and Colcman Hawkins, Some of his work was published, 

all of it under the pen name o "Lenny Amber" ("amber being 
the English translation of the German word, "Bern," the first 
syllable of Bernstein's surname). 

The security of a regular income brought Bernstein tempor- 
ary elation. Now that he knew where his next meal and his 
next week's rent would come from, he was able to give up his 
sordid furnished room for a more comfortable, cheerful, and 
convenient studio apartment in the Carnegie Hall building. 

He threw himself into extracurricular musical activities with 
a renewed outburst of energy. They might pay him little or 
nothing whatsoever, but they did provide him with the im- 
mense personal satisfaction of expressing himself through 
serious music and making contact with an audience. Several 
times he appeared as pianist over WNYC (the New York City 
municipal radio station), once with David Oppenheim, clari- 
netist, in a performance of his clarinet sonata. On February 17, 
1943 he appeared in Town Hall, New York, at a forum-concert 
presided over by Virgil Thomson devoted to the music of Aaron 
Copland, where he played Copland's Piano Sonata. Bernstein 
was not originally selected to give the performance. But a day 
or so before concert time, the scheduled pianist fell ill, and 
Bernstein was hastily recruited as a substitute. He learned the 
immense and technically exacting work in a matter of hours, 
and gave a brilliant account of both himself and Copland's 
music; he even contributed some charming verbal comments 
about Aaron Copland and the sonata. 

In March, Bernstein appeared at the Museum of Modern 
Art in a special program devoted to Camargo Guarnieri, a dis- 
tinguished South American composer. In the same month he 
appeared at a concert of music by Young Americans, sponsored 
by the League of Composers at the New York Public Library, 
where once again he participated in a presentation of his clari- 
net sonata. In May he filled the dual role of pianist-commenta- 
tor at a benefit concert in Town Hall. And so it went, 


Nor was composition neglected. During 1943 he wrote and 
had published by Witmark a song cycle, / Hate Music: Five 
Kid Songs. (Witmark had previously also published his clarinet 
sonata.) But his most ambitious composition of all that year was 
a major work and his first for symphony orchestra. While 
completed in 1942 it had been begun a few years earlier. In the 
summer of 1939 he projected and sketched a composition for 
soprano and orchestra called Lamentation, on a text from the 
Book of Lamentations in the Bible. The music remained just 
random sketches. Early in 1942 Bernstein learned that the New 
England Conservatory in Boston was sponsoring a contest among 
American composers for a symphonic work. After deciding to 
enter the contest he mulled over various ideas, finally planning 
the writing of a symphony inspired by the Biblical prophet, 
Jeremiah. Once this idea was crystallized in his mind he realized 
that the Lamentation he had started in 1939 and never finished 
could fit in nicely as the last movement of his symphony. 

The deadline for the submission of entries to the contest was 
December 31, 1942. Bernstein had to work at top speed. Most of 
the Jeremiah Symphony was written in white-heat intensity, and 
with a momentum that often kept Bernstein working through 
half the night. The orchestration was completed during ten days 
of feverish work. All the while Bernstein kept himself awake at 
night by drinking numerous cups of coffee and stimulating his 
nervous system with benzedrine pills. When his manuscript had 
to be prepared, friends came to his help. They drew the bar lines 
and assisted in inking in the notes. Shirley Bernstein wrote in 
the time signatures. Bernstein personally delivered his manuscript 
to the New England Conservatory in Boston at the zero hour 
just before midnight on December 31. The next day he took the 
train back to New York and went straight to bed to recover from 
his physical and mental exhaustion. 

There had been exhilaration in writing his first symphony, 
just as there had been exhilaration in getting his first job and 


making his first New York appearances as a pianist and a com- 
poser. But this happy state was short-lived* By late spring of 1943 
he was once again in the doldrums. His symphony did not win 
the prize. Worse still, Koussevitzky, who had seen the manu- 
script, had told him bluntly he did not like it. Now the des- 
pondency o 1942 deepened into outright despair, from which 
there would be no escape that summer. Both the Berkshire Sym- 
phony Festival and the Berkshire Music Center had that year 
suspended operations for the duration of the war. 

Nonetheless, Bernstein did go back to Lenox, Massachusetts, 
that August. Koussevitzky was giving there a series of three lec- 
ture-recitals for the benefit of the Red Cross, and he had invited 
Bernstein to provide the musical illustrations at the piano. En 
route to Lenox, Bernstein dropped off at Boston to make one 
more attempt to get into the Army. Once again he was turned 
down. This rejection put him in an ugly mood when he arrived 
in Lenox on Saturday morning. An agonizing cold did not 
help matters either. The following day was August 25 his twenty- 
fifth birthday. A happy birthday, indeed! Despite all his frantic 
efforts of the past year he had failed to penetrate the fringe of 
New York's concert life, and he was now farther than ever 
from a successful career. 

On arriving in Lenox, Bernstein received a message from 
Koussevitzky that Artur Rodzinski, resting at his farm in 
nearby Stockbridge, wanted to see him the following morning. 
Rodzinski was one of America's outstanding conductors who 
had just been appointed as the new music director of the New 
York Philharmonic. 

When Bernstein came to Stockbridge to meet Rodzinski the 
next morning, they sat in the fields "on a kind of haystack." For 
a while they talked aimlessly. Rodzinski revealed he had heard 
Bernstein conduct the student orchestra at Tanglewood and had 
been impressed. They continued on with a rambling conversa- 
tion when Rodzinski suddenly turned to Bernstein and asked: 


"How would you like to be assistant conductor of the New 
York Philharmonic next season?" 

It had come as simply as all that: the turning point in Bern- 
stein's life; the beginning of his professional career in music; 
the ending of all his doubts, fears, frustrations, and despair! 
Rodzinski had not even questioned him about his ability to 
take on the assistant conductor's job. Bernstein had not played 
the piano for him nor gone through any scores. And yet one 
of the most desirable jobs in the country had fallen into his 
lap like a ripe plum from a top-heavy tree! His salary of $100 a 
week spelled financial security for Bernstein at long last. The post 
further provided a cherished opportunity to work with one of 
the world's greatest orchestras in making music! Surely this was 
the gift of gifts for his twenty-fifth birthday! 

Since good fortune rarely comes unattended, Bernstein was 
given a second birthday gift that same evening. At the lecture- 
concert in Lenox, Koussevitzky gave him the opportunity to 
give the first public presentation of his song cycle, / Hate Music, 
with Jennie Tourel as soloist. 

A few days later a brief announcement was published in 
The New Yor% Times to the effect that Leonard Bernstein, 
who never before had conducted a professional symphony or- 
chestra in public, was appointed Artur Rodzinski's assistant 
with the New York Philharmonic. The notice went on to say 
that Bernstein was the youngest man ever to receive this appoint- 
ment with this historic orchestra. 

Bernstein tore the clipping out of the newspaper and sent it 
to Helen Coates in Boston. At the top of the clipping he 
scrawled in red ink: "Here we go!" 

But how far he was going and how quickly not even he, 
in his wildest imagination or in his most uninhibited dreams, 
could have dared to anticipate. 


"Here we go!" 

Leonard Bernstein became assistant conductor of 
the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the fall of 1943. He 
had, at last, good cause for contentment. For the first time he 
was making a respectable living from music without the neces- 
sity of resorting to hack work. His main duty at the Philhar- 
monic was to read the new scores that came into the office, sift- 
ing out those he thought worthy of performance. Thus he 
found himself in the mainstream of contemporary music, and 
he enjoyed to the full the stimulation of studying and passing 
on the music of composers both world-famous and unknown. 
Beyond all this, he now had a magnificent orchestra to work 
with and experiment on for he was required to be present at 
all rehearsals and sometimes take over and help Rodzinski in 
preparing a composition. The only thing still lacking to make 
his musical life complete was an audience to communicate with 
since all his work ended at rehearsals something which his 
personality and temperament demanded as relentlessly as his 
body needed food and rest. But now he was fully convinced 
that he would get that audience sooner or later. It came much 
sooner than even he had dared to hope. 

On the evening of Saturday, November 13, Bernstein accom- 
panied Jennie Tourel in the concert premiere of his song cycle, 
I Hate Music, at Town Hall, New York. His parents had come 


from Boston for this concert, the Philharmonic appointment 
having finally convinced them that Lenny was a musician to 
reckon with. For Bernstein their presence contributed additional 
zest to the excitement of presenting his composition to a sophis- 
ticated New York audience. 

Later that night Bernstein attended a party at Jennie Tourel's 
apartment. There he was the center of interest, surrounded and 
continually congratulated for his music by admiring friends 
and acquaintances. He was snatched from them by the tele- 
phone. Bruno Zirato, manager of the Philharmonic, had called 
to say that Bruno Walter, then appearing as the guest conduc- 
tor of the orchestra, was sick in bed and would be unable to 
appear at his concert the following afternoon. Efforts were now 
being made, Zirato said, to reach Artur Rodzinski at his Stock- 
bridge farm. If Rodzinski were unable to come into the city 
the next morning to take over the performance, then Bernstein 
would have to substitute. 

At the moment when he moodily restored the telephone re- 
ceiver to its carriage, the possibility that he might be called on 
to conduct the New York Philharmonic the next day seemed 
highly remote. There was no reason in the world why Rod- 
zinski could not be contacted; no reason why there was not 
enough time for Rodzinski to make the four-hour motor trip 
into New York the next morning well in time for him to 
conduct the afternoon concert. Nevertheless, Bernstein cautiously 
decided to leave TourePs party at once, go back to his studio, 
and glance through the scores of the music being performed 
the next day "just in case," as he said. Scheduled on that pro- 
gram was a world premiere: Theme and Variations by a young 
Hungarian-born American now working in Hollywood, Miklos 
Rozsa. In addition, there were Schumann's Manfred Overture, 
Richard Strauss* Don Quixote, and Wagner's Prelude to Die 
Meister singer. 

"I stayed up until about 4:30 a.m., alternately dozing, sipping 


coffee, and studying the scores. I fell into a sound sleep about 
5:30 a.m. and awakened at 9 a.m. An hour later Mr. Zirato 
telephoned and said, 'You're going to conduct.' My first reaction 
was one of shock. I then became very excited over my unex- 
pected debut and, I may add, not a little frightened. Knowing 
it would be impossible to assemble the orchestra for a rehearsal 
on a Sunday, I went over to Mr. Walter's home and went over 
the scores with him. I found Mr. Walter sitting up but wrapped 
in blankets and he obligingly showed me just how he did it." 

After this brief session with Bruno Walter, Bernstein returned 
to his studio for another few hours of study. At n a.m. he called 
his father, who was staying at the Barbizon Hotel and was 
planning to return to Boston that afternoon. "You're going to 
see me conduct the Philharmonic," Lenny told him excitedly. 
Finally, at 1 130 p.m. he pushed aside the music and began to 
dress. He put on a conservative gray sack suit, the best outfit he 
had available. (As yet he did not own either a dinner jacket or a 
cutaway.) He was in a state of physical exhaustion for lack of 
sufficient sleep. He was tense with fear, nervousness, and excite- 
ment. His emotions were keyed to a high pitch. And he was suf- 
fering from a stuffed nose. 

In an effort to quiet his nerves, he stopped off at the drugstore 
near Carnegie Hall for a cup of coffee. Then he made his way 
through the 56th Street entrance to Carnegie Hall to the artist's 
room, there to await the summons to the stage which came 
promptly at three o'clock. With a slight nod of recognition to 
the applause that greeted him, he moved energetically across the 
stage and leaped briskly to the conductor's dais. 

When Bruno Zirato stepped on the stage to announce that 
Bruno Walter was ill and that "y u are gi n g to witness the 
debut of a full-fledged conductor born, educated, and trained in 
.this country," many in the audience that day knew little about 
Bernstein. They could, then, hardly have expected more than a 
perfunctory performance. Even some of those in the hall who 


knew him well and were fully aware of his immense talent re- 
mained skeptical of his results that afternoon. After all, Bernstein 
was about to meet his first serious test as the conductor of a major 
symphony orchestra under the most severe conditions possible 
probably more severe than those ever before encountered by 
any other young conductor making a debut. Bernstein was 
directing a program he had not rehearsed. He was conducting 
some music with which he had first become acquainted only a 
few hours earlier. And he lacked the experience necessary to 
give him the assurance and skill he would need to meet such 
a challenge. 

The first loud chords of the Manfred Overture sounded bril- 
liant and precise. Bernstein says that the moment those first 
notes rang out he lost all feeling of nervousness and doubt, all 
consciousness of the awesome fact that at long last he was on 
the stage of Carnegie Hall conducting the New York Philhar- 
monic Orchestra before an audience, that at the other end of 
the microphone dangling over his head were several million 
more music lovers across the length and breadth of the United 
States. All that mattered to him now was the music itself as 
he was shaping and carving it with his beautifully articulated, 
batonless hands. 

Two hours after that the majestic closing chords of Wagner's 
Prelude to Die Meistersinger brought the concert to a trium- 
phant conclusion. A thunderous ovation followed, growing in 
strength all the time like some gathering storm. The young, 
exhausted conductor drenched to his skin with perspiration 
bowed first to the cheering audience, and then to his parents 
seated in the auditorium. His strong, handsome, expressive 
face was radiant. At that moment he knew that all the de- 
feats of the past had been resolved into a magnificent victory; 
all the doubts that had preceded this day, and whose overpower- 
ing weight had been so crushing, had now been replaced by 
self-confidence and an unshakable faith in the future. 

That concert was transmitted over the network o the Colum- 
bia Broadcasting System. Koussevitzky was in that radio audi- 
ence. He was one of the first to send in his congratulations. 
He wired simply: "Listening Now. Wonderful." Artur Rod- 
zinski appeared in Carnegie Hall during intermission. He 
heard only the second half of the concert, after which his ver- 
dict was: "Bernstein is a prodigious talent." 

Such were the initial stirrings of what soon became a veri- 
table deluge of acclaim. Newspapermen, even representatives 
of the foreign press, rushed backstage to talk to Bernstein before 
relaying to their papers their stories of a phenomenal event. 
Eight crews of photographers no one seemed to know why 
they were there and where they had suddenly come from 
were taking over a hundred pictures of the young conductor. 
The New Yorf^ Times and the New York Herald Tribune 
were two of several newspapers to carry the story on their 
first page as a news event of first importance. The New Yor\ 
Times also devoted an editorial to the debut; and its critic, 
Olin Downes, discussed the performance in a full-column review. 

What Downes said that day reflected the reaction of his 
colleagues. Bernstein "shows that he is one of the very few 
conductors of the rising generation who are indubitably to be 
reckoned with. ... It was clear at once that ... he was con- 
ducting the orchestra in his own right and not the orchestra 
conducting him; that he had everyone of the scores both in 
his hands and his head; and though he logically and inevitably 
conformed in broad outline, he was not following slavishly in 
the footsteps of his distinguished senior. Mr. Bernstein thought 
for himself and obtained his wishes. . . . The program was 
exacting . . . [but] was met with a fine comprehension, with 
emotional as well as intellectual flexibility, and the perception 
of line, proportion, climax which drove the music home. And 
there was the interpretative artist's conviction which establishes 
its truth." 


The New York Daily News was more colloquial in its re- 
port reaching out for an analogue in baseball in much the 
same way Bernstein himself would someday be doing while 
making a musical commentary. Said The News: "Like a shoe- 
string catch in the centerfield make it and you're a hero. Muff 
it and you're a dope. Bernstein made it." 


"Why Is a Conductor Necessary?" 

Leonard Bernstein was now a famous conductor. 
This, then, may be the convenient moment in his story to pause 
momentarily and digress long enough to consider the art of 
conducting. What are the qualities that make a conductor 

In his telecast on December 4, 1955, in which he discussed 
and analyzed this very question, Bernstein opened his program 
by directing the first pages of Brahms' Symphony No. i. Sud- 
denly he stopped conducting and walked away from the podium. 
But the orchestra continued to play as if nothing had hap- 
pened and playing both accurately and well. "You see," re- 
marked Bernstein, "they don't need me. They do perfectly well 
by themselves." Then he went on to ask: "Why is a conductor 

The men of a great symphony orchestra are, to be sure, all 
highly trained musicians fully capable of reading music and 
counting time. And, with proper preparation, they would still 
be able to play correctly if there were no conductor standing 
in front of them giving them directions. In fact, some decades 
ago, several attempts were made to dispense with conductors, 


with "conductorless orchestras" in the Soviet Union and later 
on in New York. These concerts were all technically efficient. 
The notes were all there, in correct time and proper balance. 
But if the music had a recognizable body, what it lacked was 
a soul. However meticulously rehearsed these concerts had 
been, the music in perfomance had lost that spark o vitality, 
that subtlety of expression and nuance, and that power of fresh 
communication with which even a thrice-familiar piece of music 
becomes vibrant and alive and exciting when re-created by a 
gifted interpreter. The "conductorless orchestra" passed out of 
existence; it is extremely doubtful if it will ever again return. 

A conductor, then, is necessary. What, then, is his function? 
And what are the means by which he tries to achieve it? 

Obviously he is the man who must keep the orchestra to- 
gether by gestures that enunciate the correct tempo and rhythm. 
For ages up to the middle of the ipth century the conductor 
was primarily a time-beater, or "Tatyschlaeger" as the Germans 
called him. Many were the ways in which, through the years, 
time was beaten. "One man conducts with the foot," wrote 
Johann Baehr in 1719, "another with the head, a third with 
the hand, some with both hands, some again take a roll of paper, 
others with a stick." In the Sistine Chapel in the r6th century 
conductors beat time with a roll of paper called the "sol-fa." 
In the i7th, Jean-Baptiste Lully beat time at the Paris Opera 
by pounding his walking stick on the floor. One century later, 
time was beaten by the musician playing the harpsichord, organ, 
or even the first violin with brisk gestures of the head when he 
was playing his instrument, with motions of the hand when he 
had no music to play. 

The baton first came into vogue in 1820. In this development 
the pioneer was Louis Spohr, come to London as guest con- 
ductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Instead of direct- 
ing his performance from the concertmaster's seat as was habit- 
ual in England, Spohr stood in front of his men and, to their 


amazement, beat out for them the patterns of time and rhythm 
by waving a little stick in the air. "Quite alarmed at such a 
novel proceeding," recalled Spohr in his autobiography, "the 
directors protested against it, but when I besought them to grant 
me at least one trial they became pacified. ... I ... could not 
only give the tempi in a very decisive manner, but indicated 
also to the wind instruments and horns all the entries, which 
ensured to them a confidence such as hitherto they had not 
known. . . . Incited thereby to more than attention, and con- 
ducted with certainty by the visible manner of giving the time, 
they played with a spirit and correctness such as, until then, 
they had never before been heard to play. Surprised and in- 
spired by the result, the orchestra, immediately after the first 
part of the symphony, expressed aloud its unified assent to the 
new mode of conducting, and thereby overruled all further 
opposition on the part of the directors. . . . The triumph of the 
baton as a time-giver was decisive." 

That little stick, and the patterns fashioned in midair by 
Spohr, represent a milestone in the history of conducting and 
orchestral performance. The conductor, no longer required to 
play an instrument in or with the orchestra, could direct all 
his attention both on the music he was interpreting and on the 
men who were performing it. Thus the conductor began rapidly 
to acquire a new status, which he was not slow to exploit. Be- 
fore long there now appeared on the scene conductors like 
Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig, Hector Berlioz in France, and 
Franz Liszt in Weimar, who supplemented the function of 
time-beating with the imposition on the men of the orchestra 
their own concepts of the music they were performing. These 
conductors helped develop and perfect baton technique to the 
point where they could telegraph some of these demands to 
their musicians while beating time. They initiated exacting re- 
hearsals in which the orchestra could be trained in the technical 
demands of the music and problems of style could be worked 


out. With Richard Wagner, the personal stamp of the con- 
ductor his individual interpretation of any given piece of 
music was even more strongly than heretofore impressed on 
performances. The conductor was a time-beater no more. He 
was now an interpreter, and re-creator, in the finest sense of the 

Today the conductor is the catalytic agent between the printed 
page of music and the men who play it. He and he alone must 
decide on all the subtleties of tempo, rhythm, accent, dynamics, 
retards and accelerations, orchestral balance, and over-all style. 
To put it as simply as possible: He must know how an orchestral 
work should sound both down to its very essentials and up to 
its grand design; after that he must know how to bring that 
sound to life. A pianist or a violinist, for example, do the very 
same things on their instruments. But the conductor is unique 
in that he must do this through other musicians and to coalesce 
them into a single entity. 

To do his job properly, a conductor must first be endowed with 
certain anatomical equipment. He must have an ear sensitive 
to musical tones, textures, and colors even more so, in fact, 
than other musical interpreters, since he must have the capacity 
to pierce through the most complex labyrinth of orchestral 
sound and recognize the slightest deviation from the acceptable. 
A conductor who cannot hear even in loudest passages a wrong 
note, an improper accent, an inexact rhythm, or a poor adjust- 
ment of orchestral balance can hardly hope to achieve a desir- 
able performance. 

Then a conductor must have a brain. His knowledge of music 
must embrace some working acquaintance with many, if not 
most, of the instruments o the orchestra so that at all times he 
knows what each instrument is capable of doing, and how. 
Through a knowledge of music history and backgrounds, the 
conductor must be able to understand and appreciate different 

styles of different composers: the serene and ordered classicism of 
a Haydn or a Mozart on the one hand, or the uninhibited emo- 
tional outpourings of a Mahler or a Bruckner on the other; 
the religious exaltation of a Bach on the one hand and the 
sensuality of a Wagner on the other; the dramatic thought of a 
Beethoven or a Brahms on the one hand and the ordered mental 
processes of modernists like Hindemith and Stravinsky on the 
other. Finally, the conductor must know the score of each 
work he is conducting down to the smallest detail. He must 
be able to read that score with facility and have the capacity to 
translate in his inner ear the printed page into musical sound 
and, conversely, musical sound into the printed page. Someone 
once put it very well when he said that a conductor must be able 
"to hear with his eyes and read with his ears." All this does 
not mean that a conductor must necessarily direct performances 
from memory. But it does mean that both at rehearsals and 
concerts he must know the music so thoroughly that he need 
not continually consult the score in front of him to know what 
is coming next. Thus he is in the position of focusing his un- 
divided concentration on both the music and the orchestra. 

A conductor must also have heart. His emotional response 
to each composition he plays must be highly sensitized. He must 
feel the music in every pore and fiber of his being, believe in it, 
love it. Only then can he hope to transfer to the orchestra men 
the emotional impact a given work has made on him. 

Ear, brain, and heart, then, are important. But they alone 
however highly developed cannot create a great conductor. 
In addition to all these things, a conductor must be a dynamic, 
exciting, inspiring personality. He must be able to electrify 
his orchestra. Bernstein himself has put it this way: "He must 
exalt them, lift them, start their adrenal pouring." A conductor 
may have the most exact technical knowledge and the most 
exalted artistic concept of a composition but if he cannot excite 
and inspire his men the result can hardly be more than a per- 


functory performance. If any proof is needed for this conten- 
tion, it will be found in the fact that so many composers are 
only second-rate performers of their own music. Surely few 
know the scores better than the composers themselves; surely 
few are as intimately acquainted with its most subtle or elusive 
emotional and intellectual content as the composers themselves; 
surely nobody knows better than the composer how a piece of 
music should sound. Besides, most composers are sound tech- 
nicians as conductors, having had intensive training and exper- 
ience in this direction. Yet when they perform their own works 
the result usually is not half so exciting or compelling as when 
a great conductor interprets them. 

Beyond his personal magnetism, a conductor like every 
other genius must have the capacity to take infinite pains. He 
must never be content with the second best, must remain ever 
relentless in the hunt for perfection. He must be able to bring 
the same freshness, youth, joy, and love to a musical composition 
performing it a hundredth time as he did when he first dis- 
covered it. 

In order to penetrate to the very heart of a masterwork to 
comprehend its over-all emotional and intellectual design a 
conductor must have behind him a lifetime of thought, feeling, 
and experience. In making music he must continually draw 
deeply from the well of a cultural background. This is what 
Bruno Walter meant when he said that "to know Beethoven, 
you must also know Hamlet and Goethe." A provincial mind 
can never recreate the noble concepts of a Bach, a Beethoven, 
or a Brahms without revealing its own limitations and narrow- 
ness. The greatest conductors of the world have all been men 
of immense wisdom, intellectual maturity, cosmic viewpoints. 
As Dimitri Mitropoulos once said: "The conductor in himself 
is nothing. It is the infinite amount of culture back of him that 
is the conductor." 

A conductor's work is done mainly at rehearsals. It is then 
that he clarifies for his orchestra men all the technical problems 
in a work; elucidates for them its artistic design; penetrates 
for them to its very essence in search of inner meanings. In 
the last analysis, what a conductor is trying to do with all the 
resources, knowledge, and technique at his command is to 
bring to life what a composer has put down on paper; and to 
uncover the subtleties and nuances of expression and meaning 
which a composer intended in his music but which the printed 
page cannot always convey with exactitude. To articulate what is 
in the music is the supreme achievement of the great musical 
interpreter. It is only the second-rater who tries to personalize 
and dramatize his performances with excessive alterations o 
tempo, rhythm, dynamics; with a prolix use of rubatos; with 
exaggerations of accelerations and crescendos, rallentandos and 

At the performance itself, the conductor must call on silent 
gestures alone in communicating with his musicians. Though 
most of the work in the preparation of a composition is over, 
at the concert the conductor must still engage himself in the 
business of re-creation and interpretation. Efficient pronuncia- 
tion of tempo and rhythm, and discreet cues, help to keep the 
musicians in line. Other gestures must maintain in the orchestra 
the spirit of excitement or exaltation the conductor had previ- 
ously engendered at rehearsals. A knowledgeable conductor 
can, even while a performance is taking place, make his final 
adjustments in sonority, balances, changes of tempo. But to do 
this he must be able to hear clearly in his mind two things 
simultaneously: the music that is being played at that moment 
and the music that will be played in the next few bars. 

No one recognizes and can evaluate -the true worth of a 
conductor as the musician who plays under him. The orches- 
tra player knows when a conductor has given him a new insight 


into a familiar piece of music; when the conductor has lifted him 
and made him soar to new heights in his performance. When 
confronted with greatness in the conductor, the orchestra be- 
comes as idolatrous as any ordinary music lover. More than 
once has an arduous, nerve-wracking rehearsal ended with an 
orchestra rising spontaneously to cheer its conductor. The heat 
of the battle is over. What remains unforgettable to the men 
is the victory of having a musical composition rise from the 
printed page to the elevation of a palpitant work of art. 



"Made Glorious Summer by This Sun..." 


"I live in a schizophrenic world" 

In less than a year after his momentous debut, 
Leonard Bernstein was able to establish his reputation solidly 
not only as a conductor but even as a composer. 

Once, while discussing with an interviewer his two main 
areas o musical activity conducting and composing Bernstein 
described himself as a musician with a split personality. "A 
performer," he explained, "is a highly public figure, an extrovert, 
whose whole compulsion is to get out there in front of people 
and let it out. Now a creative person is quite another fellow. 
He has a complex inner life, his big relationship being with 
himself, or his Muse, or his God, or his subconscious. He has 
to seek out that gray solitude where he's stuck with himself. 
Most people of the arts belong to one group or the other. I 
live in a schizophrenic world of both." 


Before the year 1943 had ended, Bernstein was given several 
more opportunities to conduct the Philharmonic, this time in 
carefully rehearsed performances. On December 2, 3, and 4 
he conducted a single number, Ernest Bloch's Three Jewish 
Poems; on December 16 and 17 he was assigned virtually the 
entire program, except for a single composition then being 
introduced by its own composer. 

Bernstein was also invited to appear with leading orchestras 
throughout the United States and Canada. On February 18 
and 19, 1944 he made his first appearances with the Boston 
Symphony. Early in March he conducted in Montreal. Between 
March 29 and April 27 he led four more concerts of the New 
York Philharmonic. On May 7 he was featured in the dual 
role of pianist and conductor at a concert of the Boston Pops 
Orchestra. It was on this occasion that he played and conducted 
for the first time the Ravel G major Piano Concerto, a work 
and a performance with which he has since circled the music 
world. During July he was a guest conductor at Ravinia Park, 
Chicago, the Lewisohn Stadium in New York, the Montreal 
Symphony, and the New York Ballet Theater in Los Angeles. 
In less than a year after his New York Philharmonic debut he 
had traveled over 50,000 miles and conducted almost one 
hundred performances. The promises of his spectacular debut 
were thus glowingly fulfilled as with each appearance he 
demonstrated an ever increasing command of his conducting 
technique and powers of interpretation. In Virgil Thomson, 
music critic of the New York Herald Tribune as in most 
other music critics everywhere else Bernstein already inspired 
early in 1944 full confidence "in ... his genius as an executant 
and an interpreter." 

His alter ego the composer was also beginning to flourish 
under the beneficent sun of public and critical acclaim. 

When Bernstein went to Pittsburgh late in January 1944 for 
guest performances, he took with him the manuscript of his 

Jeremiah Symphony for its world premiere. (Jennie Tourel was 
the vocal soloist.) This work in a romantic, rhapsodic style, 
and rich in emotional content was a dramatic contrast to the 
ultramodern idiom and neoclassic restraint of his preceding 
clarinet sonata. The three movements were respectively entitled 
"Prophecy/ 1 "Profanation," and "Lamentation" -the last utiliz- 
ing a verbal text from the Book of Lamentations sung by a 
mezzo-soprano. Though this symphony was pervaded through- 
out with intense racial feeling, Bernstein rarely used actual 
Hebrew melodies. There were two exceptions. The first theme 
of the second movement a phrase was lifted from a traditional 
synagogual chant for the Sabbath sung during the reading of 
the Haftorah. And the opening phrase of the vocal part of the 
finale was derived from a liturgical cadence heard on Tisha 
B'Av f the holiday commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. 
"Other resemblances to Hebrew liturgical music are a matter 
of emotional quality rather than of the notes themselves," Bern- 
stein has explained. "The first movement aims only to parallel 
in feeling the intensity of the prophet Jeremiah's pleas with 
his people; and the Scherzo, to give the general sense of destruc- 
tion and chaos brought up by the pagan corruption within the 
priesthood and the people. The third movement being a setting 
of the poetic text is naturally a more literary conception. It is 
the cry of Jeremiah as he mourns his beloved Jerusalem, ruined, 
pillaged, and dishonored after his desperate efforts to save it." 

Following these initial performances in Pittsburgh, the sym- 
phony was heard in many other American cities. Bernstein 
introduced it to Boston when, on February 18 and 19, he made 
his first appearances with the Boston Symphony. (It was charac- 
teristic of Koussevitzky's broad tolerance to modern music in 
general and to his "Lenyushka" in particular that though he 
had not taken to the Jeremiah Symphony when he first saw it 
in manuscript and thus would not himself conduct it he was 
nevertheless eager to have Bernstein conduct it at his Boston 


debut.) On March 29, 31, and April i, New York heard the 
symphony when Bernstein directed guest performances of the 
New York Philharmonic. 

The Jeremiah Symphony continued to get numerous per- 
formances during the next few years. Wherever it was heard 
it made a profound impression. Everywhere the critics found 
this music to be "moving in fervor," "spacious in design," of a 
'lyrical intensity," and filled "with real exuberance and zest." 

The distinguished Boston critic, Warren Story Smith, wrote: 
"In commenting upon what seemed to him a real significant 
occasion, this reviewer finds himself in the predicament of the 
symphony man who is said to have remarked that he didn't 
dare say how good he thought Mr. Bernstein was for fear of 
appearing ridiculous. However, he is willing to go all over- 
board and quote Schumann's famous salutation to Chopin, 'Hats 
off, gentlemen, a genius!* We do not know whether he will 
surpass or even equal his first symphonic effort. But no matter. 
The real point is that one cannot think offhand of any other 
American composition that has the drive, the poignancy, the 
dramatic strength, the emotional force of this Jeremiah'' 

Modern Music said: "With unwavering simplicity and direct- 
ness he has written not so much a literal expression of a Biblical 
excerpt as he has fashioned an emotional experience of his 
own. * . . The tense austerity of the first movement, the fresh 
charm of the . . . theme which opens the Scherzo, and the ex- 
pressive simplicity of the final movement standout." 

Virgil Thomson reported: "Mr. Bernstein orchestrates like a 
master. The symphony has . , . lyrical intensity; and at the 
beginning of the middle, or Scherzo, section there is a sort of 
dance passage that evokes most poignantly the Jewish Near 

On May 16, 1944, the symphony received the New York 
Music Critics Circle Award as "the outstanding orchestral 
work by an American composer" introduced that season a 

selection made on the very first ballot. In 1945, RCA Victor 
released a recording, in a performance by the St. Louis Sym- 
phony under Bernstein, Nan Merriman soloist. When the three- 
day rehearsal of Jeremiah ended in St. Louis, the men of the 
orchestra rose to their feet to cheer the young composer-conduc- 
tor. "I just stood there on the podium and wept/' Bernstein 

Bernstein's first symphony was soon followed by his first 
ballet score. On April 18, 1944, Bernstein conducted the world 
premiere of Fancy Free at the Metropolitan Opera House in 
New York. 

He had been commissioned to write this score by the Ballet 
Theater (now called the American Ballet Theater). With his 
commitments as conductor now a serious drain on his time, he 
was compelled to write much of this music by fits and starts, 
in many different parts of the country. Some was done on 
trains, in airports, in hotel rooms between appointments with 
interviewers and late at night after his concerts. His progress 
was further complicated by the fact that Jerome Robbins (who 
was preparing the choreography) was himself pretty much on 
the move with the touring Ballet Theater; and a second collabo- 
rator (Oliver Smith, scenic designer) was at that time in Mexico. 
The three men had to co-ordinate their separate efforts on 
Fancy Free by means of long-distance telephone, by telegraph, 
and even by recordings. As soon as Bernstein finished a section 
of music he recorded it and dispatched the disc to Robbins 
wherever he happened to be at the time. Robbins then wired 
Bernstein his comments and possible suggestions for revision. 
After Bernstein had made these changes, a new recording would 
be sent Robbins. Other ideas between composer and choreog- 
rapher had to be discussed over the telephone. Sudden inspira- 
tions on the part of one came winging across the country in 
wires to the other. All the while both Robbins and Bernstein 


tad to maintain continual communication with Smith in Mexico. 

fancy Free is a ballet of young America in 1944. Bernstein 
goes on to describe the action as follows: "With the sound of a 
juke box ... the curtain rises on a street corner with a lamp 
post, a side street bar, and New York skyscrapers pricked out 
with a crazy pattern of lights, making a dizzying background. 
Three sailors explode on the stage; they are on shore leave in 
the city and on the prowl for girls. The tale of how they meet 
first one, then a second girl, and how they fight over them, lose 
them, and in the end take off after still a third, is the story of 
the ballet." 

In writing his music Bernstein revealed still a new string to 
his creative lyre. The austere and modern approaches of the 
clarinet sonata, and the romantic and racial style of his sym- 
phony, were displaced by the highly spiced melodies, rhythms, 
and instrumental colors of jazz. Since all his life Bernstein en- 
joyed playing and improvising on the piano jazz melodies, the 
blues, and boogie-woogie, writing in these popular styles came 
to him naturally. 

His often brilliant, always deeply musical, and ever sophisti- 
cated use of jazz was one reason why Fancy Free was such an 
immediate success. Another was Jerome Robbins' imaginative 
choreography. This was his bow in a field in which he would 
soon achieve world-wide eminence. Edwin Denby of the New 
York Herald Tribune described Fancy Free as "a perfect Ameri- 
can character ballet*' John Martin of The New Yorl( Times 
said it was "a rare little genre masterpiece." George Amberg, 
in his book Ballet, called it the "first substantial ballet entirely 
created in the contemporary American idiom, a striking and 
beautifully convincing example of genuine American style." 

Bernstein was originally scheduled to direct only seven per- 
formances of Fancy Free the spring season of the Ballet 
Theater being scheduled to close on May 7. But the overwhelm- 
ing acclaim to Fancy Free and the persistent demand for tickets 

necessitated the extension of the Ballet Theater season for an 
additional two weeks. During this period Bernstein was called 
on to direct twelve more performances. In June, Bernstein 
recorded his score for Decca, and in July he appeared for two 
weeks with the Ballet Theater at the Hollywood Bowl in 
California. Fancy Free was given 161 times in its first full 
season. Since then it has become a staple in the modern American 
ballet repertory. 

When the New York Music Critics Circle met in 1944 to select 
the Jeremiah Symphony for its annual award, it seriously con- 
sidered bestowing on Bernstein a second prize for the best new 
ballet music of the season. After mature deliberation, however, 
the critics decided against such a move, feeling it unwise on their 
part to confer two such important honors in the same year to 
a young and unknown composer. 

One other serious Bernstein composition was introduced in 
1944: Seven Anniversaries, a suite for solo piano, completed 
one year earlier. These were brief anniversary tributes to seven 
close to him, including Copland, Shirley Bernstein, Serge 
Koussevitzky, and William Schuman. All were written in a 
comparatively modern idiom, the dissonances and unorthodox 
tonalities, however, severely disciplined by a sound feeling for 
structure. A critic for The New Yorf^ Times called these pieces 
"slight" but went on to say that they were written "with charm 
and grace, and obviously inspired by the personal qualities of 
the people to whom they are dedicated." Bernstein himself 
played this work for the first time, at a benefit concert at the 
Boston Opera House on May 14, 1944, A half year later, on 
October 13, Gordon Manley gave its official premiere at Town 
Hall, New York. In 1948, Bernstein wrote four more anniver- 
sary pieces for piano. 

Having gathered accolades for his first symphony and his 
first ballet score, Bernstein was now preparing to enter a new 


creative arena, one not often accessible to serious musicians: the 
Broadway musical comedy. 

Soon after Fancy Free was produced, Adolph Green and 
Betty Comden discussed with Bernstein the possibility of ex- 
panding the lively textual material of the ballet into a musical 
comedy. From the very beginning of these talks, this idea ex- 
cited Bernstein. He had always loved musical comedy, had 
always enjoyed singing and playing the show tunes of the 
past. The urge to write popular music of his own for the Broad- 
way stage was too irresistible to be denied. 

During the summer of 1944, Bernstein went to the hospital 
for an operation on a deviated septum. His room was always 
crowded with friends, popping in and out at all hours of the 
day and evening as if they were coming to a cocktail party. 
The room was continually ringing with laughter, loud talk, 
arguments, the playing of the radio at full blast, shouts from 
gin-rummy games. One harassed nurse remarked wearily that 
Bernstein might very well be "God's gift to music but I hate 
to tell you where he gives me a pain." 

Despite the crowds, the noise, and the activities swirling 
all around him despite the necessary medical preparations for 
his operation and the discomfort and pain that came with con- 
valescence Bernstein was able to begin working on his musical 
comedy in the hospital. As it happened, Adolph Green was re- 
quired at this very same time to have his tonsils removed. 
Green and Bernstein took adjoining hospital rooms and ar- 
ranged for their respective operations to take place on the same 
day, so that they could take full advantage of all their free time 
hi bed to work on their musical. Betty Comden was the unifying 
agent for their often excited discussions and plans. She would 
continually rush from Green's room to Bernstein's and back 
again to Green's carrying new ideas and fresh pieces of stage 
business while contributing suggestions of her own. 

The writing of the musical comedy went so quickly and 


effortlessly once they left the hospital that it was scheduled for 
a Broadway opening before the year's end. The main thread 
of Fancy Free was retained. Three young sailors, on shore 
leave in Manhattan for twenty-four hours, are on the hunt for 
girls. But this idea was expanded into a complicated pattern. 
One of the sailors, Gaby, falls hi love with the picture of "Miss 
Turnstiles" in the subway, a young lady by the name of Ivy. 
His two buddies, Ozzie and Chip, help him search for the 
living "Miss Turnstiles." They scour the city from Central Park 
to Coney Island, from Carnegie Hall to a night club, from 
Times Square to the Museum of Natural History. During this 
quest, Ozzie and Chip find girls of their own. Chip comes upon 
a female taxi driver, Claire, and Ozzie finds a young anthro- 
pology student, Hildy, at the Museum of Natural History. 
They all continue to seek out "Miss Turnstiles," until they come 
upon her in a Carnegie Hall studio, where she is taking vocal 

Jerome Robbins, creator of the basic story line of Fancy Free, 
as well as its choreography, was recruited to devise the dance 
sequences. This was the first of many similarly significant 
assignments he would henceforth perform for the musical thea- 
ter. George Abbott, one of the stage's most brilliant and success- 
ful directors, was willing to do the staging. Adolph Green and 
Betty Comden wrote text and lyrics and were cast in the parts 
of Ozzie and Claire. Sono Osato was engaged as "Miss Turn- 
stiles" and Nancy Walker as Hildy. The musical comedy itself 
was baptized On the Town. 

All concerned with it knew from the beginning that they 
were involved in a solid box-office attraction. Even before On 
the Town went into rehearsal, the motion-picture rights were 
sold to M-G-M for $100,000 plus a percentage of the gross re- 
ceipts. When On the Town tried out in Boston, critics and 
audiences alike fell in love with it. For Bernstein, however, 
Boston provided a sobering antidote to all the infectious excite- 


ment and exhilaration generated by a successful play. For three 
hours, one evening, Koussevitzky took him severely to task for 
squandering his time, energy, and talent on pop tunes. 

On the Town opened at the Adelphi Theater on December 
28, 1944. In every department it had the exuberance, breeziness, 
gusto, and impudence of youth. George Abbott's staging and 
direction maintained a breathless pace and feeling of excite- 
ment from opening curtain to closing. "On the Toum" said 
Time Magazine, "sings and dances and joshes its way . . . 
[and] wherever it goes, uptown or down, it shoves dullness oS 
the curbstone" In The New Yor% Times, Lewis Nichols de- 
scribed it as "one of the freshest musicals to come into town 
in a long time." 

Bernstein's music had the same kind of raciness, wit, and 
dynamic drive that vitalized the dialogue, lyrics, acting, and 
staging. For one now writing his first Broadway score he 
showed remarkable resiliency and adaptability in meeting the 
demands of lyrics and text. He could produce haunting ballads 
with a fine feeling for a well-sounding tune and a poignant 
emotion, as in "Lucky to Be Me" and "Lonely Town." His 
touch could suddenly become light and facetious in comic 
numbers like "I Get Carried Away" and "I Can Cook." He 
could write a highly atmospheric jazz number in "New York, 
New York." And a symphonic dimension rich and inventive 
in its harmonic and instrumental vocabulary but without loss 
of popular inflections could be found in his background music 
for the dance sequences. 

In the year 1944 Bernstein became for Broadway a new, strik- 
ing voice a consummate musician who brought to popular 
writing a skill, taste, range of style, and an exciting freshness 
and originality not often encountered in the musical-comedy 
theater of that period. This music was so good that even four- 
teen years or so later it still proved an exciting experience. In 
1959, Brooks Atkinson could say of this score: "Mr. Bernstein's 


tunes are certainly bettermuch, much better than any that 
have been produced for Broadway this season." 

Its Broadway run of 463 performances put it solidly in the hit 
class. But the history of On the Town did not end here. In 
1949, M-G-M released the thoroughly entertaining motion- 
picture adaptation which starred Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, 
Ann Miller, and Betty Garrett. A decade after that two off- 
Broadway revivals took place simultaneously one at the De 
Witt Clinton Adult Center, and the second at the Carnegie 
Hall Playhouse. "As it happens," said Walter Kerr in the New 
York Herald Tribune after witnessing one of these revivals, "I 
missed the original Broadway production of On the Town, and 
it wasn't until last evening . . . that I quite realized how un- 
lucky I'd been. Fourteen years and a lot of good shows later, 
this . . . confection still stands as one of the most original, in- 
ventive, and irresistibly charming of all American musicals." 




Up to the moment of his debut in 1943, Bernstein 
had been interviewed only once then only by a youngster repre- 
senting the Hunter High School magazine. One year after his 
debut there was hardly a newspaper or magazine in the entire 
country that had not publicized his already fantastic career as a 
"triple-note man of music," as The New Yor^ Times Magazine 
now described him. His picture graced the front cover of Har- 
per's Bazaar and other national circulation magazines. He was 
quoted on every possible facet of his life, and on every conceiv- 
able musical subject. 

His weekly mail was now in excess of five hundred letters. His 
telephone rarely stopped ringing calls from agents of all sorts, 
journalists, and free-lance writers seeking interviews, young 
musicians seeking guidance and help, unknown admirers ex- 
pressing enthusiasm. Bobby-soxers stopped him in the street 
for autographs, or crowded around him in wide-eyed adulation, 
as if he were Frank Sinatra. The U.S. Junior Chamber of Com- 
merce named him one of the outstanding young men of 1944, to- 
gether with the novelist, John Hersey, and the business tycoon 
(and later Governor of New York), Nelson A. Rockefeller. 

Bernstein was deluged with offers. Symphony orchestras 
throughout the country sought him out for guest appearances, 
since he was now box-office magic. Tommy Dorsey wanted him 


to write original compositions and make arrangements for his 
band. Radio producers called him for coast-to-coast broadcasts; 
his wit and wisdom made him a favorite guest on the popular 
radio-quiz program, "Information Please." Paramount Pictures 
had him take a screen test with the hope of starring him in a 
screen biography of Tschaikovsky. Warner Brothers was con- 
sidering him for its movie based on the life of George Gershwin. 
A few years later, a third Hollywood studio became interested in 
having him write scenario and music and play the piano for, 
besides acting in, a screen adaptation of Oliver Onions' The Bec\- 
oning Fair One. Most of these offers did not interest him. Those 
that did brought him an annual income in excess of $100,000. 

He was forced to seek a larger apartment, finding it on the 
top floor of an old house in Washington Square. He also had 
to engage a secretary to handle his mail, answer the telephone, 
budget his time, arrange his appointments, protect him from 
well-meaning intruders, keep his scrapbooks. Fortunately, Helen 
Coates, his one-time piano teacher but now a close friend, was 
willing to come down from Boston, settle in New York, and take 
over a grueling assignment which since then she has been hand- 
ling with the utmost grace and competence. (When Bernstein 
published his book, The Joy of Music, in 1959, he dedicated it 
"affectionately" to her "with deep appreciation for fifteen selfless 

"I couldn't believe that all this was happening to me," he con- 
fided to his friends. "I didn't really believe it was me at all. Me 
a celebrity!" 

He u/as a celebrity now, American music's matinee idol. And 
the casting was ideal. If Bernstein had been born to be a great 
musician, he had also been generously endowed by nature with 
those physical and personal attributes calculated to win friends 
and influence people. Off the podium, as on it, he made a 
striking impression. He stood five feet eight and a half inches, 
physically well developed, with powerful shoulders and the chest 


of an athlete. His handsome, leonine face combined strength 
and sensitivity: strength, in the vigorous profile, jutting jaw, 
burning intensity of the eyes; sensitivity, in the delicate 
curve of the lips, and in the mobile, expressive face that elo- 
quently reflected his ever-changing moods. His unruly black 
hair with a heavy shock hanging casually over an ample 
forehead- gave further accentuation to his "matinee idol" ap- 
peal. In time the temples and hair would be flecked with gray 
to contribute to his boyishness an impressive touch of dignity. 
He was always proud of his hair. He never wore a hat. At 
frequent intervals he would pass his hand hurriedly through the 
thick mane, or pass a comb swiftly through it to smooth its un- 
ruly waves. 

He looked younger than his years, but there were many things 
about him that were adult and mature. His attitude to his work, 
art, and career was from the beginning both sober and profes- 
sional. He had a fierce, intransigent integrity which refused 
to tolerate sham or hypocrisy of any kind, however expedient 
it might have been for him at any given moment to make com- 
promises. His intelligence was expansive and penetrating. He 
could speak several languages quite well (French, Spanish, 
Italian, and Yiddish); of others (Hebrew and Latin) he had 
a smattering. His fund of information about a wide variety of 
subjects was remarkable, gained from extensive reading in 
many areas. When he appeared over the radio on the "Informa- 
tion Please" program he continually amazed radio listeners 
with the rich fund of his extramusical knowledge. In literature 
his tastes were sophisticated. They ranged from poetry (which 
he liked to write as well as read, and for which he had a 
genuine creative gift), and fiction, to biography, philosophy, 
and the classics. He had more than a passing acquaintance with 
metaphysics, philosophy, psychology, esthetics, the theater, the 
movies, current events. The spongelike tissues of his memory 
seemed to absorb everything and anything with which it came 

into contact. "If we wanted some ancient song, lyric, or routine 
we'd forgotten," says Adolph Green, "we just called up Lenny. 
He's our filing system. He might be hip-deep in Brahms, but 
he'll rattle off that song, first syllable to last, without a second's 
hesitation." He was always vitally concerned over the world 
about him, a belligerent liberal in politics, a progressive in his 
social viewpoints. 

But much of his charm lay in the fact that despite all his 
sobriety and maturity he remained in many other ways a boy. 
A tendency toward exhibitionism, which he continually be- 
trayed, had about it the disarming attitude of a school kid try- 
ing to impress a teacher. Few things delighted him more than 
discussing philosophy with philosophers, psychoanalysis with 
analysts, poetry with poets, stagecraft with people from the 
theater, and even cooking with chefs and then notice their 
amazement at discovering how well informed he was in their 
own specialized fields. His outpouring of enthusiasms, his 
perpetual state of visible excitement about many different things, 
his exuberance, his seemingly inexhaustible vitality belong to 
youth rather than the mature. The same thing is true of his 
dogmatic opinions, and his healthy ego. He could say with 
conviction "Fm the logical man to write the great American 
opera" or "I can play this piece of music better than anybody" 
without sounding either brash or impudent or offensive. One 
naturally tolerates excessive self-evaluation and ingenuousness in 
the very young who are very gifted. 

Inside the concert hall he might be the young Toscanini. 
Outside he was "Joe College." He dressed in more or less Ivy 
League fashion casually, informally, and yet with an occasional 
touch of flamboyance. As soon as he could afford to do so, he 
indulged his interest in good clothes freely and took inordinate 
pride in his tailor. He often dragged along his friends to fittings 
which came to be known as "Lenny's dress rehearsals." He 
spoke with a Harvard accent in a well-modulated voice that 


was precise in diction, and especially meticulous in the pro- 
nunciation of foreign terms. And yet, like so many collegiates, 
he liked to spice his talk with refreshing colloquialisms, Broad- 
way jargon, plain slang, and figures of speech that revealed he 
knew something about boxing, baseball, or football. He had 
some of the penchants and interests of young collegiates. He 
was apt in sports (later on these included sailing and water- 
skiing) ; he was fond of the "funnies" (particularly Dick Tracy) ; 
and he was so crazy about the movies that he indiscriminately 
saw both the bad and the good and heartily enjoyed them all. 
Though a maestro of the redoubtable New York Philharmonic 
or the Boston Symphony, he never concealed the fact that he 
had a lifelong passion for jazz, show tunes, boogie-woogie; in- 
deed, it was not at all unusual for him at rehearsals of sym- 
phony concerts to entertain the men of his orchestra with such 
music at the piano. He liked to do the samba and conga. He had 
a schoolboy's delight in games chess, anagrams, double acros- 
tics, crossword puzzles, charades. He enjoyed playing with 
kids; in their presence he became one of them. This uncommon 
gift for reaching out to youngsters and communicating with them 
on their own level was a gift he later used to wonderful ad- 
vantage in making music for or in talking about music to 
young people. He often perpetrated little jokes, was glib with 
puns, and enjoyed the wit of his friends as much as he did 
his own. One of his little sports was to make up melodies which 
translated the telephone numbers of his friends into tones by 
having each number and letter of the dial telephone assume a 
specific musical value. 

Unlike so many other musicians he was no introvert, but a 
highly social and gregarious person who loved parties and 
thrived on being with the people he liked. 'Tm made for people, 
I love people, that's my weakness," he has confessed. He even 
liked having them near him when he was at work. Whoever 
came into contact with him reacted so strongly to his personal 

warmth and capacity for friendship that any kind of formal 
relationship seemed impossible. Even after he had become world- 
famous, all those who knew him socially or professionally spoke 
of him naturally as "Lenny"; any other form of address would 
have seemed to them false, pretentious, and outright affectation. 
When Bernstein became the music director of the New York 
Philharmonic the men of the orchestra held a meeting to decide 
on the correct way to speak to him. Some insisted that as 
music director he must henceforth be spoken to as "Mr. Bern- 
stein," while some held out for "Maestro." But most of the men 
insisted that he had always been and always will be for them 
just "Lenny." A few of the more proper members of the 
orchestra later tried to compromise by addressing him as "Mae- 
stro Lenny" since they, too, felt that "Maestro" or "Mr. Bern- 
stein" would not be suitable. But to all the others he remained 


"An artist has the compulsion 
to work" 

Once again he had to ask himself: "Whither, 
Lenny ?" In a way, this question was even more unsettling, more 
difficult to answer, than it had been in 1942. Three years earlier 
as a failure who had confronted only dead-end streets where- 
ever he turned the choice in music had not been his to make. 
He was an innocent pawn in the hands of chance, or luck, or 
destiny, or whatever else one may wish to call that force that 
carries a man to his fulfillment. But in 1945 Bernstein was a 
recognized success in everything to which he had thus far put 
a hand. This decision was his, and his alone, as to which of 
several fields he should henceforth cultivate. Should he con- 
centrate on being a conductor or a serious composer? Should 
he continue writing popular music for the Broadway stage? 
Should he develop his talent as pianist further? 

Koussevitzky was not the only one to disapprove of the way 
he had begun to scatter his energies; who felt that this was the 
time in his career for him to devote himself more intensively to 
study, practice, and experimentation, and thereby develop him- 
self more fully as a serious musician. Many of his friends in- 
sisted he was spreading himself too thin. Greatness in music, 
as elsewhere, comes only from specialization, from complete 
dedication to a single direction. What was it that Rachmaninoff 

had once said on reviewing his own career as composer, conduc- 
tor, and pianist? "If you hunt three hares at once how sure can 
you be that you will kill one of them?" 

Bernstein was far too astute and self -critical not to recognize 
the validity of these and similar arguments. Analyzing them in 
relation to his own career he underwent a considerable amount 
of soul searching and self-evaluation. He was still young, and 
he knew there was still a great deal for him to learn. He recog- 
nized the need for considerable more background and experience 
which could come only through hard work, and preferably hard 
work within a single area. 

Despite his youth he had sufficient maturity and wisdom to 
accept the lavish acclaim already heaped on him without having 
his head turned or losing perspective. "There is only one thing 
for me to do," he said soberly in discussing his newly won tri- 
umphs, "and that is to forget everything except my work." He 
did not fail to realize that his fame carried with it the awesome 
responsibility of having to give his audiences at all times the best 
that was in him. 

Yet in his music he found it ever so difficult to contain himself, 
to curtail his varied endeavors, to stop penetrating into every 
possible direction. To work in a single facet of music to the 
exclusion of all others would have meant for him to function on 
a single cylinder both as a man and an artist. Perhaps one rea- 
son for this was his uninhibited passion for all kinds of music. 
He used to say, "music gives me the goosepimples." When he 
read a new score he was seized by the compulsion to carry this 
music from his inner ear to life in performance. When he browsed 
through a piano concerto he was helplessly driven to the piano 
to communicate his ideas about this composition to whoever 
would listen. To fail to express himself in this way would have 
resulted in an inner emptiness he could not suffer. In the same 
way, if an idea for a serious composition or if his imagination 
was stimulated by some exciting project for the popular stage 


he felt smothered unless he could sit down and pinpoint his 
ideas on paper. "An artist has the compulsion to work," he in- 
sisted. "He'd go crazy if he didn't. I love my work all of it." 
He simply had to communicate in every branch of music that 
fascinated him. His unique problem was that, unlike so many 
other musicians, he was fascinated by every single branch of 

He decided to turn a deaf ear to all well-intentioned advice 
and criticism that insisted he canalize his talent through a single 
artery. He would function in the way his versatility, enthusiasm, 
and inner drives demanded. Such was his physical and nervous 
make-up that he thrived on the diversity of his undertakings. 
He seemed to have an almost inexhaustible reservoir of energy, 
vitality, and zest. Music never tired him. He could maintain a pace 
of activity that might exhaust anyone else; at the point where 
others might become vitiated, he would first begin to increase 
his momentum with a renewed burst of energy. After hours 
upon hours of hard work on one project he would be so ebul- 
lient, wide-eyed, and fresh that he could immediately embark 
on another task. Taking on a musical job completely different in 
character from one already completed was for him a revitalizing 
force. He explains: "Shifting from one thing to another is my 
vacation. I never get tired of working." 

Not only did he have the capacity to progress from one assign- 
ment to the next almost before (so to speak) he caught his 
breath. He also had the capacity to work on several different 
assignments simultaneously, to operate on several different levels 
at once with a maximum capacity on each. One writer once re- 
marked that it was almost as if Bernstein's brain had several 
different compartments, each able to handle a different task. 

However much he diversified his activities, he knew that his 
main energy would have to be directed toward conducting. And 

in this sphere he achieved world-wide recognition within three 
years of his debut. 

After a single season as assistant conductor of the New York 
Philharmonic, he resigned this post in the fall of 1944 to enlarge 
the scope of his conducting activity. He was called on to serve as 
a guest conductor of most of America's leading symphony orches- 
tras. In the early part of 1945 he led the Boston Symphony (in 
Boston and Providence), the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New 
York Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Van- 
couver Symphony in British Columbia. During the summer he 
appeared at the Lewisohn Stadium in New York. 

In the fall of 1945, Bernstein was appointed music director 
of the New York City Symphony. This was New York's youngest 
orchestra founded in 1944 at the invitation of Mayor Fiorello 
La Guardia, with Leopold Stokowski as permanent conductor. 
Though this orchestra operated on a small budget its survival 
made possible only because the conductor drew no salary and 
the players received a minimum wage it had already become a 
vital part of the city's musical life. 

Under Bernstein, its artistic significance grew by leaps and 
bounds. Once its director, he proceeded to reorganize it, replac- 
ing the weaker players with young, energetic, talented musicians. 
He set up a ten-week fall season with a duplicate series of con- 
certs on Monday and Tuesday evenings. He tried to make his 
programs continually provocative and exciting with innovations, 
premieres, and revivals. He introduced new works by many 
Americans, including Vernon Duke, Alex North, and Marc 
Blitzstein among others. He gave the first American performance 
in a dozen years of Bela Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion, 
and Celesta, a modern masterwork. And after an equally long 
period of neglect, Blitzstein's controversial opera The Cradle 
Will Roc\ f and Alban Berg's exciting expressionist opera Woz- 
zec\ were revived, both of them in concert versions, and the lat- 

ter through salient excerpts. Hindemith, Milhaud, Chavez, Cop- 
land, Stravinsky were some of the masters of 20th-century music 
represented on Bernstein's programs. An all-Stravinsky program 
included the rarely heard opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex. An all- 
British concert traversed the centuries from Purcell to Benjamin 
Britten. An all-Mozart performance included a piano concerto 
which Bernstein played while conducting the accompaniment. 
There was a continual feeling of adventure about these concerts 
that made it impossible for the New York City Symphony audi- 
ences to lapse into complacency. 

While holding this office of music director, Bernstein continued 
to make important appearances elsewhere. In the spring of 1946 
he was invited to conduct two concerts of American music at an 
international festival in Prague, Czechoslovakia, commemorating 
the fiftieth anniversary of the Czech Philharmonic. Though 
Sir Thomas Beecham and Charles Munch also appeared there 
as representatives of then: respective countries, it was Bernstein 
who, in the opinion of several correspondents, stole the lime- 
light. On May 15 his program included William Schuman's 
American Festival Overture, Samuel Barber's Essay No. 2,, 
George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (Eugene List, soloist), 
Roy Harris' Symphony No. 3, and Copland's El Salon Mexico. 
On May 16 Bernstein repeated the program except for the sub- 
stitution of his own Jeremiah Symphony for the Gershwin 
rhapsody. On each occasion he brought down the house. The 
high standards set both by his performance, and the music he 
presented, provided a powerful testimony to Europe that musical 
America was finally coming of age. 

That summer, on August 6, Bernstein conducted at Tangle- 
wood the American premiere of one of the most significant 
operas of the 2oth century, Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes. 
That opera had been commissioned by the Koussevitzky Founda- 
tion, and its world premiere in London a year earlier (June 7, 
1945) had proved a sensation. Bernstein's dynamic, searching 

performance gave Peter Grimes an impressive American send- 

Among the important American orchestras conducted by 
Bernstein during the regular winter seasons between 1946 and 
1948 were the Boston Symphony, the NBC Symphony, the 
Cincinnati Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the St. 
Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, and the Minneapolis 
Symphony. In 1947 he directed two of the regular festival 
programs of the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood the first 
time Koussevitzky allowed anyone but himself to conduct these 

Bernstein's fame as conductor circled half the world in 1947 
when he embarked on his first tour of the Near East and 
Europe. His first appearance with the Palestine Philharmonic 
early that year was probably the greatest personal triumph he 
had thus far enjoyed. Only a small fraction of those who wanted 
to hear the concert could get into the auditorium even though 
the aisles and the rear of the auditorium were crowded with 
standees three-deep. At this Near East debut Bernstein con- 
ducted his Jeremiah Symphony, the orchestral parts of which, 
shipped from New York, were lost somewhere en route to 
Palestine. A hurried call for a duplicate set brought them to 
Palestine just three days before concert time. 

The excitement generated by Bernstein's performance mounted 
with each number until the final outburst resembled pande- 
monium. "He is one of the most talked of personalities and 
popular visitors in years," reported Peter Gradenwitz to The 
New Yor% Times, "The enthusiasm of the audience at his 
first concert with the Philharmonic Orchestra knew no bounds, 
and not since the days of Arturo Toscanini who, as you will 
remember, launched our orchestra on its way ten years ago has 
a conductor been recalled so many times and given a similar 
ovation." Then Mr. Gradenwitz went on to report that the 
Philharmonic "has never been better. Its ... musicians were 


fascinated by Mr. Bernstein, the conductor and pianist; and 
measuring their enthusiasm, we should not forget that the 
orchestra has played under Toscanini, Weingartner, Molinari, 
Sargent, Szenkar, Steinberg, and Munch. The concerts with 
Mr. Bernstein were the climax of the orchestra's tenth season." 
After that, Bernstein appeared at the second International 
Festival in Prague, and in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, 
and The Netherlands. In London he gave four programs, on 
each of which he featured at least one American or British 
composition. In Scheveningen, Holland, he gave an exciting 
demonstration of his versatility to achieve once again a personal 
success of the first magnitude. Nathan Milstein, the violin vir- 
tuoso, had been scheduled to appear as soloist on Bernstein's 
program. Because of a French railway strike, Milstein was un- 
able to reach Holland. At the last moment, Bernstein substituted 
for Milstein by playing and conducting the Ravel G major Con- 
certo to the delight, and awe, of his audience. 



'When Fm conducting, nothing 
else exists" 

Just before the opening of Bernstein's third season 
as musical director of the New York City Symphony he at- 
tended a dinner at which a city official pointed with civic pride 
to the fact that New York was "supporting" such a fine musical 
organization. From his seat Bernstein shouted out: "Fraud!" 

This was not the first time he was put out by the prevailing 
misconception that the city was paying the bills for his orches- 
tra. The cold truth was that New York contributed nothing 
whatsoever toward its maintenance. The seasonal deficit of 
about $50,000 was made up from profits derived from other 
attractions at the New York City Center. In addition, in 1947 
the American Federation of Musicians contributed a subsidy 
of $10,000. Even so, the musicians of the orchestra were woefully 
underpaid, while Bernstein himself drew no salary. 

His shout of "fraud," however, was the first time Bernstein 
made his feelings so public It helped to dramatize in the news- 
papers the highly precarious existence of this distinguished 
musical organization. In 1948, the American Federation of 
Musicians announced it would not contribute a second subsidy 
of $10,000 for the coming season. The loss of this sorely needed 
additional income represented a death blpw to Bernstein's 


plans for his orchestra. He firmly announced his resignation. 
"Rather than a reduction in the budget/ 5 he wrote in explana- 
tion to the director of the City Center, "I had for three years 
been looking forward to an expansion, which I feel is now 
necessary. By expansion I mean an increase in the number of 
concerts given (with resultant increase in financial security of 
the orchestra members), an increase in the size of the orchestra, 
and an increase in the length of the season. While it is reasonable 
to expect the usual 10% increase in ticket sales (in line with 
the steadily mounting attendance records) this would not be 
enough to guarantee the 1948 season, even with no expansion 
at all. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation with reluctance 
and sadness." 

A few months later an announcement explained that dif- 
ferences between the orchestral management and Bernstein had 
finally been resolved harmoniously. But since the time was now 
late for planning the 1948 season, it would be completely 
eliminated, with operations resumed under Bernstein after a 
year's hiatus. Actually nothing of the sort happened. The 
money Bernstein insisted his orchestra needed was never found. 
When he refused to- reassume his post in 1949, the orchestra 
passed out of existence. 

For about another decade, Bernstein was without an orches- 
tra of his own, but, of course, he was not without orchestras. 
During the next few years he bestrode the world of music with 
seven league boots. There was hardly an important symphonic 
organization anywhere in Europe, the Near East, as well as the 
United States, that did not call him for performances. When- 
ever he came abroad he brought with him works of American 
composers, for he had by now become an eloquent spokesman 
and the passionate propagandist for the musical culture of his 
native land. He also performed the music of Europeans, old 
and new, a graceful gesture of his respect to the Old World he 
was visiting. He conducted English composers in Great Britain, 

Robert Schumann in Germany, Bela Bartok in Hungary, Cheru- 
bim in Milan. 

In 1948 he gave his first command performance. This took 
place in Amsterdam. The pleasure of performing before royalty 
was undoubtedly a keen one. But it is more than probable that 
another of his European concerts that year afforded him even 
profounder satisfaction. In Munich, Germany once the hot- 
bed of Nazism, once the scene of the most virulent anti-Semitic 
demonstrations he performed and received an ovation for a 
Hebraic composition, his own Jeremiah Symphony. 

In 1950, his cyclonic performance of Mahler's Second Sym- 
phony at the Holland Music Festival was described by one of 
the local critics as a "revelation" this in a city where for many 
years Willem Mengelberg's interpretations of Mahler with the 
Concertgebouw Orchestra had been regarded by the rest o 
the world as the ultimate criterion. In 1953, Bernstein's first ap- 
pearance at La Scala in Milan where he led performances of 
Cherubim's Medea with Maria Callas in the tide role repre- 
sented the first time in the long and eventful history of that 
opera house that an American-born conductor appeared during 
the regular season. 

If Bernstein was to be deprived of the luxury of having an 
orchestra of his own all through these years, there were at least 
two symphonic organizations (other than the New York Philhar- 
monic) that were particularly close to his heart. One was the 
Boston Symphony Koussevitzky's orchestra; the orchestra of 
the Berkshire Music Festival; the orchestra of Bernstein's home 
city; the first orchestra he had ever heard play. February 18, 
1944, when he conducted the Boston Symphony for the first 
time, had been an occasion overflowing with sentiment as far 
as he was concerned. He was no longer the native son return- 
ing home with "tail between my knees," but the conquering 
hero rhapsodized in the Boston newspapers with feature 
stories and cheered by the audiences at Symphony Hall. As he 


walked the streets o Boston, which conjured up to him more 
than one image of past defeats, he could savor the full sweet 
taste of his success. That exhilaration, and that sense of personal 
victory, may have lost some of its edge with his later appearances 
in Boston. But he never lost his pleasure sentimental as well 
as musical in conducting the Boston Symphony. Koussevitzky 
gave him plenty of opportunities to do so not only in Boston 
but even in New York and Brooklyn, something Koussevitzky 
permitted no other conductor to do. Koussevitzky also allowed 
Bernstein to indulge his passion for modern music freely at the 
Boston Symphony concerts. He presented significant world 
premieres. Some were by young Americans (for example, Harold 
Shapero's Symphony for Classical Orchestra); some were by 
established Americans (David Diamond's Symphony No. 4); 
some even by distinguished Europeans (Olivier Messiaen's mam- 
moth ten-movement apotheosis of rhythm, Turangdila). Bern- 
stein performed a considerable number of other modern works, 
among them Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Hindemith's Vio- 
lin Concerto, Copland's El Salon Mexico, and Charles Ives' 
Symphony No. 2. (The last of these works had been written 
between 1897 and 1902. But it had to wait half a century and 
for Leonard Bernstein before it received its world premiere, at 
a concert of the New York Philharmonic on February 22, 1951.) 

Though Koussevitzky retired as music director of the Boston 
Symphony in 1949, to be succeeded by Charles Munch, Bern- 
stein's association with that orchestra did not end. He con- 
tinued to make many welcome appearances with that orchestra, 
both in and out of Boston. 

A second orchestra with which Bernstein has always main- 
tained a strong emotional bond since 1947 was the Palestine 
Philharmonic. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, 
the name of the orchestra was changed to Israel Philharmonic. 
Soon after this change o name took place, Bernstein announced 
he would accept the post of music director. The assumption of 


this office, for one reason or another, did not prove feasible to 
him., but he nevertheless made frequent guest appearances with 
the orchestra and for a while even served as its "musical ad- 
viser." In the fall of 1948 he led the Israel Philharmonic in forty 
concerts in a sixty-day period in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, 
Rehoboth, and Beersheba, often appearing in the dual capacity 
of conductor and pianist. At Beersheba he led the first symphony 
concert ever heard in that ancient Biblical city; an open-air 
performance which included Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue had 
been arranged there for the benefit of Israeli soldiers who had 
come from many miles around to hear the performance. 

Bernstein won the love and admiration of all Israelis, not 
merely for his genius as a conductor but also for his demonstra- 
tions of personal courage. At that time Israel was involved in 
continual open fighting with 'the Arabs. In their tour of Israel, 
Bernstein and his orchestra were often only forty-eight hours 
behind Israeli troops. The musicians passed roads to Galilee lined 
with the bodies of dead Arabs. With many of Bernstein's concerts 
taking place within range of the shooting, the music on more than 
one occasion was accompanied by an obligate of shell explo- 
sions. If Bernstein felt any discomfort or anxiety, being so close 
to the firing range, he failed to reveal this either during his con- 
certs or in his personal associations with the Israelis. At a con- 
cert in Rehoboth an air-raid alarm was sounded while Bernstein 
was playing and conducting a Beethoven concerto. He later con- 
fessed that he suspected that "this was my swan song." But he 
kept on playing and conducting as if his performance were 
taking place under the most ideal conditions. When not partici- 
pating at formal concerts, Bernstein appeared at military camps 
and hospitals to entertain their occupants with his piano playing. 
Such dedication to the people and the country did not go unrecog- 
nized. Before leaving Israel, Bernstein received the decoration of 
the Emblem of the Defenders of Jerusalem as two thousand 
Israeli soldiers stood and cheered. 


Bernstein has maintained an intimate relationship with the 
Israel Philharmonic both in and out of Israel. When, early in 
1951, the orchestra made its first tour of the United States, 
the conductor's dais was shared by Bernstein and Koussevitzky. 
Over a 2-month period, Bernstein directed 12 concerts during a 
nationwide journey that covered 40 cities and included some 
55 performances in all. This American tour was officially 
launched with a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New 
York, on January 8, 1951, the highlight of which was a concert 
by the Israel Philharmonic under Bernstein's direction. 

Then, in 1955, The Israel Philharmonic undertook an exten- 
sive European tour over an 8-week period, with 43 concerts in 
9 countries. And once again Bernstein was one of its principal 

When, on October 2, 1957, a new concert hall was opened in 
Tel Aviv the Frederick R. Mann Auditorium with a gala 
concert by the Israel Philharmonic and with Artur Rubinstein, 
Gregor Piatigorsky, and Isaac Stern as soloists, the conductor 
above all others called on to direct this historic event was Leonard 

Bernstein, then, has captured the heart, the mind, and the 
imagination of the world with his remarkable musicianship and 
his equally commanding personality. 

As a conductor, Bernstein is a technician of the highest order. 
Nature has been bountiful to him by endowing him with a 
fabulous ear and memory. In addition, his instinctive and 
innate musical intelligence provides him with an articulateness 
that enables him to read, speak, and think in musical terms as 
easily as in verbal ones. In conducting music, however abstruse 
or esoteric, he knows it to its slightest markings of each page. 
He understands the technical demands made by it on himself 
and his men, the printed page never holding any problems for 
him. He knows how he wants the music to sound. But equally 


important in making him a great conductor is his compelling 
personal appeal and his rare gift of communication. 

At rehearsals some conductors are veritable tyrants, achieving 
their best results from the men through displays of violent tem- 
per and the exercise of dictatorial power. Toscanini, Stokowski, 
Koussevitzky were all like that. Other conductors manage to 
create a warm, human relationship between themselves and 
their orchestra. That is the way Bernstein likes to work. At re- 
hearsals, as away from them, he is "Lenny" rather than "the 
Maestro." What he wants from the musicians he manages to get 
through his powers of logic, friendly persuasion, and a high 
regard for each man's dignity and self-respect. He likes to 
lighten and relax the tense atmosphere of rigorous rehearsals 
with light banter and slang. "Next four bars," he might say, 
"square, sehr square!" He will mimic, make puns, go into droll 
pantomime. Sometimes he may indulge in an analysis of the 
inner meaning of some piece of music. Sometimes he tries to 
arouse the men through uninhibited emotional demonstrations 
as the music is being played. He swoons, prays, scowls, fumes, 
entreats, sings. He is not afraid to voice his boyish enthusiasms. 
"This music simply slays me!" he once shouted after a particu- 
larly beautiful passage had been played. But by the time his re- 
hearsal is over he has managed to get his message across. 

His ear, memory, articulateness, and capacity to transmit 
to his men his every artistic demand clearly and precisely are 
some of the qualities that made it possible for him to become 
one of the world's great conductors in such a short period of 
time. It takes many, many years for any conductor to acquire a 
working repertory, especially if, like Bernstein, he is acutely 
aware of his responsibilities to his contemporaries and to the 
music they are writing. Most conductors get that repertory (as 
well as their conducting know-how) by fulfilling a rigorous ap- 
prenticeship with a small orchestra of a minor city. Away 
from the limelight of national or world attention these conduc- 


tors can go through their growing pains as artists until they 
arrive at assurance as technicians and maturity as musicians. 
Bernstein never had that apprenticeship. From his New York 
Philharmonic debut on he was always called on to conduct the 
world's greatest orchestras in the most exacting programs. In 
his first years as conductor there were many works in the 
standard repertory he had never studied, let alone performed. 
In presenting these works for the first time he was the center 
of national or world interest not an obscure apprentice func- 
tioning in some out-of-the-way town. With his very first presen- 
tation of each of these masterworks his conception and inter- 
pretation were measured by the yardstick of performances by 
the world's foremost conductors each of whom had played, 
digested, and studied the same works a lifetime. 

This was a serious handicap for Bernstein to overcome. It 
might have proved fatal. But Bernstein hurdled it gracefully 
because of his phenomenal capacity to learn new scores quickly; 
because of his facility in unraveling technical complexities; be- 
cause of his sure instincts in understanding what a composer 
is trying to say; and because of his natural aptitude as a born 
teacher in passing on instruction to the orchestra. Thus he was 
able to fulfill his world-wide commitments even while he was 
building his own repertory. 

Together with his natural endowments as a musician, he 
has been blessed with a personality able to arouse, excite, inflame 
both the orchestra and the audiences. The intensity, the exalt- 
ation, and the passion he feels about every piece of music he 
conducts make themselves strongly felt as soon as he starts to 
conduct it. During the actual performance, these emotions find 
expression in his platform behavior. On the conductor's stand 
Bernstein is a visual as well as an aural experience. Not only 
hands, but even head, body, and knees respond to the emo- 
tional impact of the music, almost as if each had a will and a 
response of its own. He throws his fists angrily into the air; he 

sinks to the floor in. humble supplication; he raises his face 
and arms heavenward in exaltation; he stands immobile and 
transfixed as his left hand quivers near his heart. At one time 
Virgil Thomson described him as "our musical Dick Tracy. 
. . . He shagged, shimmied and believe it or not bumped." 
Bernstein explains: "I honestly don't realize what I'm doing 
on the podium. When I'm conducting, nothing else exists but 
the music." 

A fiery temperament that invites such highly subjective re- 
actions to music is, to be sure, better in some types of music 
than in others. Bernstein is usually more at ease, and more ef- 
fective, in works with hyperthyroid tensions and emotional 
indulgences than he is in music of tight-lipped restraint and 
classic beauty. Bernstein has always been more exciting in per- 
formances of, say, Mahler's Second Symphony (the Resurrec- 
tion), Liszt's Faust Symphony, Schumann's Second Symphony, 
or Brahms' First Symphony than he has been in Haydn or 
Mozart. But his artistic gamut is by no means a limited one. 
If the dynamic impact of his presentations of Romantic and post- 
Romantic music has been arrestingly dramatic and emotional, 
he has also demonstrated a remarkable empathy with such old 
masters as Bach, Handel, and Beethoven. It takes a good deal of 
living, a good deal of thought and background, to translate the 
musical sounds of Bach or Beethoven into human experience. 
Such a profound human experience is beginning to assert itself 
more and more strongly in Bernstein's conceptions of master- 
works like the Eroica and the Ninth Symphonies and the 
Missa Solemnis, all by Beethoven. This is due to the fact that 
Bernstein's musical genius is a partner to his rich and varied 
culture. Well read and well informed as he is in so many fields, 
he possesses that depth of intellectual understanding that Tf^fr- 
anschauung accessary for uncovering in the music of the 
masters the extra-musical meanings and aspirations of their 
most subtle or penetrating thoughts. 


But if there is any single area in which Bernstein is not only 
at his best but in some respects unique, it is in the music of the 
moderns. He is a child of his times, and he is its voice. The 
complex, nervous, often discordant sounds of the modern com- 
poser is an idiom that comes as naturally to him as little col- 
loquialisms and Americanisms do to his speech. Through the 
speech of the moderns, Bernstein seems best able to express his 
own dynamic, turbulent personality. In works by Stravinsky, 
Copland, Bartok, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and the younger 
Americans, Bernstein is unquestionably one of the outstanding 
musical interpreters of our generation. 



"The only way one can really say 
anything about music is 

to write music" 

While Leonard Bernstein was freely roaming the 
world directing its leading orchestras and appearing at its prin- 
cipal festivals, he was not idle as a composer. 

The year 1946 saw the premiere of a second Bernstein ballet: 
Facsimile, a production of the Ballet Theater, choreography by 
Jerome Robbins. The first performance took place at the Broad- 
way Theater in New York on October 24, the composer con- 
ducting. Facsimile was an allegory about the emptiness in the 
lives of so many people today. To point up this problem, the 
program quoted a motto by Ramon y Cajal: "Small inward 
treasure does he possess who, to feel alive, needs every hour 
the tumult of the street, the emotion of the theater, and the 
small talk of society." 

The ballet had only three characters: The Woman, The Man, 
Another Man. The Woman stands alone on a desolate beach 
trying to amuse herself as best she can. She plays with her sha- 
dow, she dances about, she toys with an object in her hand. 
First one man, then the second, arrives and tries to attract her 
interest. The first man bores her, but she becomes more stimu- 
lated when the second one presents himself as a rival to the 


first. The two men get embroiled in a bitter fight over her 
until she angrily brings it to a halt. The two men leave, frus- 
trated. The girl once again is left alone on the beach trying 
to find distraction from boredom. 

This ballet represented for Bernstein a radical change of 
pace from Fancy Free. His first ballet had been realistic and 
satirical, modern and racy. The second was melodramatic, at- 
mospheric, at times nebulous. Ever resilient in adapting his 
musical style and thinking to the requirements of a text, Bern- 
stein produced for Facsimile a score far different in texture 
and idiom from that for Fancy Free, In the latter, extensive use 
had been made of jazz and other popular styles within a witty, 
jaunty, sprightly score. In Facsimile Bernstein was the serious 
modernist, utilizing the fullest resources of contemporary writing 
in music that was gripping in dramatic impact and high-ten- 
sioned in mood. 

Once again, almost as if further to demonstrate his creative 
flexibility, Bernstein wrote in 1947 a serious piece of music far 
different from Facsimile. This was a song cycle called La Bonne 
cuisine which (for all its technical complexities and subtleties of 
expression) was music of a light heart and gay spirit. Bernstein 
(himself a gourmet who was not without some skill in the 
kitchen) came upon an old French cookbook in a house he 
rented one summer in Tanglewood. He found inordinate de- 
light in reading the recipes aloud as if they were poems; they 
stimulated his musical imagination. He finally set four of the 
recipes to appropriate music. 

In 1948 he was hard at work on his second symphony. His 
inspiration came from a "baroque eclogue" by W. H. Auden, 
The Age of Anxiety. "The moment I finished reading this 
poem," Bernstein says, "the composition of a symphony ac- 
quired an almost compulsive quality." Despite the fact that 
he was almost always on the move, he could not let the sym- 
phony alone. He wrote parts in Taos (New Mexico), Philadel- 


phia, Richmond, and Tel Aviv. The orchestration was done 
while he was making a month-long tour with the Pittsburgh 
Symphony. Scored for piano and orchestra, the symphony was 
completed on March 20, 1949. Below the last bar of the last page 
Bernstein scribbled: "NYCthe first day of Spring!" The 
world premiere took place soon after that on April 8, 1949 ' m 
Boston. Serge Koussevitzky (to whom the work is dedicated) 
conducted the Boston Symphony, and Bernstein played the piano 

Like the poem on which it was based, Bernstein's music was, 
in the composer's own explanation, "a record of our difficult 
and problematical search for faith." Bernstein planned to use 
the poem only as a point of departure for his own musical think- 
ing. He had originally had no desire to translate into literal 
musical terms both the programmatic content and the philo- 
sophic and social overtones of the eclogue. "Yet," says Bern- 
stein, "when each section was finished I discovered upon re- 
reading, detail after detail of programmatic relation to the poem 
details that had 'written themselves/ wholly unplanned and 

The symphony is in two parts, each with subdivisions. The 
first, "The Seven Ages," consists of an introduction and four- 
teen variations. In the Introduction, four lonely characters (a 
girl and three men) are in a bar on New York's Third Avenue. 
Each is trying to escape from inner turmoil, conflicts, and 
doubts. Before long they are drawn to one another through the 
necessity of finding some common bond or urge. They begin 
discussing the state of man, "The Seven Ages." The first part 
of "The Seven Ages" (Variations i through 7) is a discussion 
of the life of man from the four personal points of view of each 
of the characters. In the next set of variations (8 through 14) 
the four characters embark on a symbolic journey in search of 

The second part of the symphony has three divisions. "The 


Dirge" places the four characters in a taxi enroute to the girl's 
apartment for a nightcap. Here they all bemoan their lack of 
a leader, or a "colossal Dad," someone to give them direction 
and leadership and serve as a kind of father-symbol. In "The 
Masque" the four characters are at the girl's apartment trying 
to forget their guilt and weariness. They then disperse. In the 
concluding "Epilogue" each is finally freed from guilt and able 
to find faith. 

The Age of Anxiety is Bernstein's most complex and eclec- 
tic composition. With extreme skill and fluency he manages to 
find the proper style the mot juste for each mood, situation, 
or intellectual concept posed by Auden's poem. At times he 
employs jazz; at times the esoteric twelve-tone technique made 
famous by Arnold Schoenberg; at times an unashamedly 
Romantic effusion in the manner of Brahms; at times the wel- 
come outpouring of pure melody; and at times the harsh dis- 
cords and tonalities of the ultra modernist. Yet such is Bern- 
stein's craftmanship that an artistic unity is created from these 
disparate idioms. Such are his creative gifts that he is able at 
all times to produce music of immense communicative power 
and deep poetic feeling. To Howard Taubman of The New 
Yor\ Times, this was "impressive . . . music . . . moving to- 
ward economy, simplicity, and clarity." Mr. Taubman goes on 
to say: "The opening section in its restraint and evocation of 
the mood, is particularly pat, and the Masque in the middle of 
the second part has a brilliant vitality. . . . The piece contains 
a dirge, written with resourcefulness, and an epilogue that makes 
its effect." 

The Age of Anxiety was awarded the Hornblit Prize of 
$1,000 which each year is presented to the best new work 
heard at the concerts of the Boston Symphony. On February 26, 
1950, a ballet inspired by this music also named The Age of 
Anxiety was produced by the New York City Ballet with 
choreography by Jerome Robbins. 

The year 1951 brought Bernstein both tragedy and happiness. 
Tragedy came on June 24 with the death in Boston of Serge 
Koussevitzky. Koussevitzky had been his second father; his 
teacher, mentor, and inspiration all in one; the man probably 
most responsible for his successful development; the North 
Star by which he had been traveling in his career. Now Kous- 
sevitzky was gone. The gap left in Bernstein's life nobody else 
could hope to fill. 

Bernstein was on vacation in Cuernavaca, Mexico, when Kous- 
sevitzky's wife phoned him from Boston to tell him how sick 
the Maestro was. Without bothering to pack a valise, Bernstein 
rushed to the airport and arrived in Boston twenty hours later. 
Thus he was able to spend Koussevitzky's last night with him. 

But there was gain as well as loss that year. On September 
9, 1951, Bernstein married Felicia Montealegre Cohn. 

She had come to New York from Santiago, Chile. She had 
been born in Costa Rica on February 26, 1922 a slight, slender, 
petite, and beautiful girl with sensitive hazel eyes, a delicate 
mouth, a serene expression on her face, and a stately carriage. Her 
father, an American, was head of the American Smelting and 
Refining Company branch in Santiago. Felicia had come to 
New York with the hope of becoming an actress but her 
immediate purpose was to study the piano with her compatriot, 
the famous concert pianist, Claudio Arrau. 

Soon after her arrival, a birthday party was given jointly for 
her and Arrau at the latter's home in Douglaston, Long Island. 
Bernstein was invited, and at the party he was introduced to 
Felicia. They were immediately drawn to each other. From 
then on they saw each other frequently. By the end of that 
year 1946 they announced their engagement. 

Eventually both of them realized that, despite their mutual 
attachment, neither one was yet ready for marriage. Nine months 
after the announcement of their engagement, while Bernstein 
was in Prague, they finally decided on separation. During the 


next few years they saw each other only occasionally, and in 
passing. While Bernstein continued to pursue a nomadic exis- 
tence around the world, Felicia was finally able to realize her 
lifelong ambition through several successful dramatic appear- 
ances on television. 

Then, one evening in 1950, they met again at Shirley Bern- 
stein's apartment. (Shirley, now also working in television, 
had all the while maintained contact with Felicia.) Leonard 
Bernstein and Felicia now took up where they had left off 
in 1947. At last they came to realize that whatever the hazards 
of marriage between two career people and with one of them 
always on the go their life apart could no longer be tolerated. 
One day, in the summer of 1951, while motoring to Tangle- 
wood, they dropped off for lunch at an inn. There Bernstein 
proposed marriage to Felicia. They announced their second 
engagement in Tanglewood on August 12, 1951, at a faculty 
buffet supper of the Berkshire Music Center. 

On September 9 they were married in Boston in a simple 
religious ceremony at Temple Mishkan Tefila where, as a 
boy, Bernstein had received religious instruction and where, in 
his thirteenth year, he had been confirmed. Only thirty-three 
guests were present mainly close relatives and a few intimate 

The change in his personal life led Bernstein to reappraise his 
professional one. Once again the ever-vexing problem haunted 
him: Should he begin to specialize in a single field of music? 
He decided that this was the time for him to take stock of him- 
self. The only way to do so was to go into seclusion for a year 
or so, to give himself both the time and the serenity with 
which to think things out soberly. As a matter of fact, he had 
been planning just such a Sabbatical when, earlier the same year, 
he had come to Mexico. Now that he was married he was deter- 
mined to continue that Sabbatical where it had been interrupted 
by Koussevitzky's death. He rented a house again in Cuer- 

navaca, Mexico, to which he escaped with his bride his inten- 
tion being to stay put indefinitely, withdrawn from all con- 
ducting commitments. He wanted to think and to compose 
music. He was planning an opera. 

But this retirement once again proved short-lived. When 
Charles Munch suddenly fell ill in Boston, Bernstein was called 
on to substitute for him for several of the concerts of .the Boston 
Symphony. The Mexican idyl thus came to an abrupt end. The 
main problem that beset Bernstein remained unanswered. But he 
did manage to finish his opera. 

The opera was Trouble in Tahiti, an amusing, unconven- 
tional little domestic comedy in one act and seven scenes for 
which Bernstein wrote his own libretto. On June 12, 1952 it 
was given its first performance under the composer's direction 
at the Festival of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University in 
Waltham, Massachusetts (of which Bernstein was artistic direc- 

The libretto touched lightly on a subject which had previously 
been discussed so much more gravely and with such greater 
depth in Facsimile and the second symphony: the present-day 
loneliness and emptiness of many people. All this was sym- 
bolized in the opera in the daily trivial bickerings of a young 
married couple in a typical suburban community. After an 
unpleasant breakfast, in which angry words are exchanged, 
the husband goes off to town to attend to business and visit a 
gymnasium. The wife also comes to town, first to see her 
psychiatrist, and then to go to a movie called Trouble in 
Tahiti. When they meet at home again that evening, they re- 
sume the morning's little quarrels and misunderstanding. Fin- 
ally, after the evening meal, they decide to flee from the un- 
pleasantness of their home life by going to the local movie thea- 
ter, which is showing Trouble in Tahiti. 

Actually this is more like a revue skit than an opera. But 
the gaiety, verve, satirical overtones of Bernstein's music 


much of it in a jazz style, and some of it in the idiom of Tin 
Pan Alley gave the opera cogency, humor, and appeal "Mr- 
Bernstein," reported Howard Taubman, "writes with delicious 
and irresistible vitality." In the Saturday Review, Irving Kolo- 
din described Bernstein's music as "crisp and flavorsome, even 
witty. . . . The strains designed to give credibility to the per- 
sonal drama of the people involved are often inventive and, 
i not precisely moving, possessed of a kind of wistful poetry." 
Trouble in Tahiti has been seen several times since its Wal- 
tham premiere. In the fall of 1952 it was given a production 
over television, and after that it was performed at Tanglewood. 
On April 19, 1955 it came to Broadway as part of a program 
entitled All in One, which included dances by Paul Draper 
and a one-act play by Tennessee Williams. 

The dream of spending a year of quiet and seclusion in 
some Mexican Shangri-La remained just that a dream. In 
1952 Bernstein was once again helplessly sucked into the vortex 
of his many activities. With Koussevitzky gone, he had to 
take over the conducting and orchestra classes at Tanglewood 
during the summer. That same year he assumed the position 
of professor of music and director of the School of Creative 
Arts at Brandeis University in Waltham, which he held for 
five years. His conducting assignments were again sweeping 
him across the face of the map. In addition to all this, he was 
deep at work on his second Broadway musical comedy. 

The decision to write another musical comedy had been 
made somewhat impetuously. One day, in 1952, Adolph Green 
and Betty Comden visited Bernstein. Since he was not at home 
they decided to wait for him, and while waiting they vigor- 
ously thrashed out a problem then uppermost in their minds. 
They had been asked to adapt for the musical-comedy stage 
the delightful stage comedy, My Sister Eileen, which in turn 
had been derived from stories which Ruth McKenney wrote 

for and published in The New Yorker. What bothered them 
first of all was a four-week deadline. If a musical comedy was 
not completely written by then, Rosalind Russell, the Holly- 
wood star who was interested in appearing in the production, 
would no longer be available for it. They had a second con- 
cern, as well. Was My Sister Eileen too dated to become good 
musical-comedy theater in 1952? "Eileen seemed so awfully 
'Thirties bound," was the way Adolph Green put it, "a sort of 
post-war depression play, full of overexploited plot lines and 
passe references!" 

They were so deep in discussion that they failed to notice 
Bernstein standing in the doorway listening to them with rapt 
interest. "The 'Thirties!" he finally shouted at them. "What a 
wonderful period! What excitement there was in those days! 
What wonderful songs!" Bernstein rushed to his piano and 
began playing some of the popular show tunes of that era. 
Suddenly he stopped, thought for a moment, and remarked: 
"Here, I've got an idea for a show tune for Eileen. Listen." 
And he began playing a melody that had just popped into his 

It was at that moment that Bernstein became one of the 
collaborators on this new musical comedy, and it was also at 
that moment that he, Green, and Comden started to work. 
For the next month they practically lived in Bernstein's studio, 
working feverishly on the lyrics and music for fourteen numbers 
to a musical-comedy text named Wonderful Town already 
prepared for them by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov. 
"We'd sit in Lenny's cave working until we couldn't see each 
other for the smoke," recalls Betty Comden. "Whenever one 
of the fourteen songs was finished, Bernstein would come in 
saying, 'O.K., geniuses, let's hear it.' The show? We started 
rehearsals right on schedule." 

On February 25, 1953, Wonderful Town "roared into the 
Winter Garden like a hurricane," as Robert Coleman wrote 


in the Mirror. It became one of the most exciting and success- 
ful productions of that season, with a run of 553 performances. 
It received the Drama Critics Award as the year's best musical 
and Bernstein's score was honored with the Antoinette Perry 
and Donaldson Awards. A national company toured the 
country, and it was successfully produced in several European 
capitals. On November 30, 1958 the show was televised on the 
CBS network. 

The setting of Wonderful Town was Greenwich Village, in 
New York, in the 1930'$. Two girls from Ohio have come seek- 
ing their fortune in the arts. One of them is Eileen (played 
by Edith Adams), a baby-faced, baby-voiced innocent hoping 
to get on the stage. The other is her sophisticated, somewhat 
hard-boiled sister, Ruth (enacted by Rosalind Russell), aspiring 
for a career as writer. As soon as they establish residence in a 
basement apartment (under which a subway is being con- 
structed) they are surrounded by a varied assortment of eccen- 
trics and "squares." Eileen apparently attracts men with her 
wide-eyed, open stare the way a magnet draws iron. An ex- 
football star, a magazine editor, a night-club owner, a manager 
o a 44th Street drugstore, and a newspaperman are some of 
those haunting the basement apartment of the two girls. Eileen 
and Ruth become helplessly involved in all kinds of adventures 
and misadventures. Somewhere along the way, Eileen gets 
arrested; and Ruth, sent by a prankster on a wild-goose news- 
paper assignment, gets embroiled in Brooklyn with the Bra- 
zilian Navy. But in the end things come out well for both 
girls. The publicity of her arrest gains Eileen a job in a night 
club, while Ruth gets a position with a newspaper. Perhaps 
even more important, both girls get the men of their hearts. 

Directed by George Abbott, with the exuberance, uproar, and 
split-second timing for which he had long become famous, 
Wonderful Town never stopped to catch its breath. "From the 
moment the curtain goes up on a rag-tag dance of Village 

characters," wrote Brooks Atkinson, "one crack-brained crisis 
leads logically into another throughout a full evening of or- 
ganized bedlam and insanity." The dynamo of the production 
was Rosalind Russell, who raced breathlessly through Ruth's 
role like an uncontrolled locomotive, gaining speed all the 
time, and seeming to be rushing to inevitable disaster. Her in- 
exhaustible energy left audiences limp with emotion at the 
final curtain. 

The excitement generated by George Abbott's direction and 
Rosalind Russell's performance could also be found in Bern- 
stein's music. "In Leonard Bernstein," said Brooks Atkinson, 
"they have the perfect composer for this sort of work a modern 
with a sense of humor and a gift of melody. . . . He writes 
with wit, scope, and variety." Every nuance of sentiment, 
satire, and broad burlesque captured by the dialogue and stage 
action vibrated as well in the remarkable score which traversed 
the scale of mood and emotion from exciting ragtime and swing 
music to romantic ballads. Of the latter, the best songs were 
"A Quiet Girl" and "Never Felt that Way." The music also 
embraced tongue-in-cheek parodies of an Irish ballad ("My 
Darlin' Eileen") and of songs about home ("Ohio"), as well 
as merry caricatures ("Pass that Football," "One Hundred 
Easy Ways," and "Story Vignettes"). 

The left hand might be writing popular music, but the right 
hand was still concerned creatively with sterner stuff. In 1954, 
Bernstein completed a new major concert work: Serenade, for 
violin, strings, and percussion, which had been commissioned 
by the Koussevitzky Foundation. This was a five-movement 
work based on Plato's Symposium. Each movement was de- 
voted to one of five Greek philosophers or poets of the Sym- 
posium engaged in a discussion on love at the home of the poet, 

Bernstein himself conducted the world premiere of the 


Serenade at the Venice Festival in Italy on September 12, 1954; 
Isaac Stern was the soloist. When the same conductor and 
soloist introduced this work in New York, at a concert of the 
Symphony of the Air, on April 18, 1956, Louis Biancolli wrote 
in the World-Telegram: "Mr. Bernstein's music moves adroitly 
from one movement to the next, each section growing natur- 
ally out of the previous one, and the whole building into a 
fabric of alternating energy and calm. ... A reading of the 
dialogues inspired a fresh and pulsing score/' In the Herald 
Tribune, Jay Harrison said that this composition "abounds 
in stretches of great beauty, and it frequently seems animated 
by a genuine poetic impulse. . . . The Serenade offers sufficient 
spice to attract and capture the ear." 

Like the second symphony, Serenade was made into a ballet. 
Renamed Serenade for Seven, with choreography by Jerome 
Robbins, it received its world premiere in July 1959 at the 
Spoleto Festival in Italy, of which Gian-Carlo Menotti was 
founder and director. The ballet was introduced in the United 
States, in New York, in the spring of 1960. 



'The happy medium" 

The same boundless energy and restless urge to- 
ward ever fuller and greater achievements that had made it im- 
possible for Bernstein to confine himself to any single facet of 
music also refused to permit him to confine his efforts as a 
teacher of music. He conducted seminars during the regular 
semester at Brandeis University between 1951 and 1956, and 
during the summer he had his chores at Tanglewood. But this 
apparently was not enough. He started to seek out some other 
medium through which he could reach a still larger audience to 
infect with his own joy in music. 

He found that medium in 1954 in television. Now the whole 
country was his classroom; now millions of music lovers were 
his students at a single session. Physically attractive, a man of 
outstanding charm, highly articulate, contagious in his enthu- 
siasms, and endowed with a natural histrionic instinct, he could 
not fail to become one of televisions most popular personalities. 
"The man met the moment," as Abram Chasms said, "with 
his winning and photogenic personality, with his remarkable 
capacity to discuss all the aspects of the aural experience, to 
elucidate them in terms of both musicological and human ex- 
periences, and to illuminate them in dramatic interpretations." 

The problem of analyzing great music to laymen had long 
intrigued him. He was impatient with what he has described 


as the "music appreciation racket," in which good music is ex- 
plained to untrained listeners in terms of pretty stories, anec- 
dotes, and extramusical interpretations often completely ir- 
relevant to the music itself and incapable of conveying to the 
layman the essential esthetic purpose implicit in the sounds. He 
also knew that a stricdy analytical approach for people unquali- 
fied to comprehend it would be a downright bore. But he was 
confident that "there is a happy medium somewhere between 
the music appreciation racket and purely technical discussion; 
it is hard to find, but it can be found." He found that medium by 
searching for and probing deeply into those very factors in a 
musical subject, or a musical composition, which made them 
so exciting to him personally. Then he would discuss his dis- 
coveries in simple, everyday English. 

Bernstein made his first television appearance as music com- 
mentator on November 14, 1954, on the Omnibus Program. 
His topic was Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, specifically the first 
movement. This music, built as it was essentially from its four 
opening notes, represented something of a miracle to Bern- 
stein. But this miracle did not lie in dramatic tales about Beetho- 
ven's deafness; nor in interpretations of these four notes as fate 
knocking at Beethoven's door; nor even in pointing up the 
fact that these notes had been used during World War II as a 
symbol of ultimate liberation and victory in nations subju- 
gated by the Nazis. Numerous other analysts, commentators, 
annotators, and teachers have discussed Beethoven's Fifth Sym- 
phony in these or similar ways since time immemorial. But to 
Bernstein the wonder and awe of this music could not be con- 
veyed to the listener by means of these explanations and inter- 
pretations. To Bernstein the music itself was the thing. In un- 
derstanding the "struggle" of the composer to find the "right 
notes, right rhythms, right climaxes, right instrumentation" 
with which to follow his opening theme one could best come 
to an understanding of the music itself. This was the mystery 

of musical creation, of Beethoven's genius, and of the greatness 
of this composition. 

To help him uncover this mystery, Bernstein went to Bee- 
thoven's notebooks, where the master had tussled with his basic 
ideas in his quest for the mot juste. As Bernstein explained in 
his broadcast: "The man rejected, rewrote, scratched out, tore 
up, and sometimes altered a passage as many as twenty times." 
Carefully and fastidiously, Bernstein led his audience through 
some of the many changes in harmony, tonality, and instru- 
mentation to which Beethoven subjected his music before 
finally coming upon sounds that satisfied him. Bernstein 
showed his audience the way this music would have been if 
Beethoven had permitted his first ideas to remain unaltered. 
Then, by following the subtle and complex convolutions of 
Beethoven's musical thinking, Bernstein demonstrated how the 
music continually gained in the clarity of its logic, drama of its 
expression, power of its climaxes as Beethoven rewrote, re- 
fined, and recast his first ideas into a definitive version. Hav- 
ing shown how and why Beethoven wrote his music the way 
he did, Bernstein then proceeded to lead his orchestra in an 
uninterrupted performance of this movement. 

This fresh and thoroughly musical approach to the problem 
of music appreciation was in a vocabulary anybody could un- 
derstand. A similar method and approach has been brought to 
all other Bernstein's musical commentaries over television 
and on an amazingly versatile range of subjects. 

Under the incisive scalpel of his discerning analysis, he has 
been able to lay bare the heart, soul, and even the entrails of 
masterworks such as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Bach's 
Magnificat, Bach's Passion According to St. Matthew, and so 
forth. He pointed up the "almost atomic energy ... its only 
equal in nature itself in the opening movement of the Ninth 
Symphony. In discussing the St. Matthew Passion he revealed 
how Bach's musical world rested on the four corners of the 

chorale-prelude, the canon, and the fugue. Then he went on to 
demonstrate how through these strictly musical means Bach 
was able to underline the "suffering and pain,'* the "truth of 
redemption," the "drama," and the "religious spirit" of his 
text. "For Bach," Bernstein explained, "notes were not just 
sounds but the very stuff of creation. If he could use them to 
shape the Cross, or to depict a gesture of Christ's hand, or to 
suggest the flight of the spirit to heaven, then he was happy." 

In his talk on Mozart he revealed that a mighty genius was 
able to conform to the musical cliches of his age and yet trans- 
late these cliches into overwhelming emotional experiences. A 
discourse on modern music clarified why these works sounded 
the way they did in readily comprehensible images and meta- 
phors. He used an analogue from baseball to explain tonality; 
showed what dissonance was by playing on the piano "America" 
with one hand and "The Star-Spangled Banner" with the other; 
described cross rhythms in terms of a George Gershwin tune, 
"Fidgety Feet." He has compared a Bach fugue to an Erector 
Set and Ravel's Bolero to a "high-class hootchy-kootchy dance." 

What makes opera grand, what is the job of the conductor, 
what makes music humorous, what is jazz, how has American 
musical comedy evolved, what has rhythm contributed to great 
music, what has been the role of musical instruments from 
ancient recorders and sackbuts to present-day curiosities like 
the kazoo and the tape recorder these and similar subjects 
carried to millions of new music lovers an altogether new concept 
of a great and formerly bewildering art. 

"His talks," said Howard Taubman, "set an unsurpassed 
standard of musical literacy on the airwaves; they exuded 
charm and showmanship; they showed that Mr. Bernstein, a 
protean figure as conductor, pianist, and composer, could use 
the home screen to communicate the wonder of music to mil- 
lions across the country in a virtuoso teaching performance." 
For these millions many of whom had never taken a lesson 

in music and thus could neither read nor play a note Bernstein 
had succeeded in making the sound of music a stirring adven- 
ture and an unforgettable experience. 

Bernstein had also achieved a happy medium between his 
private and social life and his musical and professional one. 

On September 8, 1952, a daughter, Jamie, was born to Lenny 
and Felicia. A son, Alexander Serge (named after Koussevitzky), 
arrived on July 7, 1955. The Bernstein family now occupied a 
nine-room duplex apartment on 57th Street, catercorner to 
Carnegie Hall. There their needs were attended to by a staff 
that included a Chilean nursemaid for the children, a Chilean 
cook, and Bernstein's personal secretary, Helen Coates. 

Bernstein has remarked lightly that eight of these nine rooms 
belong to his family, while only one baptized his "thinking 
room" is his. Since he prefers keeping the windows covered 
by lowered Venetian blinds, and since the color of the walls 
and the carpet is a drab gray, this working room at first sight 
seems unusually somber. And unusually crowded. Bernstein's 
scores, sheet music, books, recordings, volumes upon volumes 
of scrapbooks of clippings, are all piled in huge bookcases. 
A portable phonograph, a recording apparatus, his papers and 
pencils, and two telephones clutter the enormous table on 
which he does his writing. Nearby is a couch on which he often 
sprawls while studying scores, or working out some pressing 
musical problem, or while just thinking. Nearby, too, is his grand 
piano. (Two smaller pianos stand back to back in the living 

Bernstein comes to this studio early each day, frequently at 
dawn. He prepares for himself a cup of coffee on a hot plate, 
then picks up one of the scores he is conducting that week for 
a two-hour period of intensive study. A more generous break- 
fast is partaken at about 8:30 that morning, usually with one 
or more people with whom he must discuss some business. When 


breakfast is over, he returns to study. Shortly after 9:30 he 
leaves his "thinking room" and crosses the street to Carnegie 
Hall for the day's rehearsal with his orchestra. After the rehearsal, 
his day's work really begins. He must now attend to numer- 
ous conferences with agents, managers, producers; meet news- 
papermen for interviews; discuss various projects with col- 
laborators; make copious notes on some piece of music he is 
working on at the moment; plan his lectures. When friends 
come to his apartment for dinner he will often join them in 
playing anagrams or discussing books, plays, or politics. Some- 
where along the line he finds the time to play with his children, 
or to join his wife in informal performances of two-piano music. 

On the evenings of his concerts, he eats sparingly, and 
reaches the hall well in advance of concert time. During the 
intermission his wife massages him with cologne. (There are 
times, before the concert, when she even cuts his hair.) While 
the massaging is going on, he usually grumbles about the 
things that went wrong with his performance or, if all went 
well, of places where an improvement could still be made. 
The concert ended, he meets swarms of friends, colleagues, and 
acquaintances in the artist's room. Then he partakes of an 
expansive meal and usually goes off with his wife to some 
social function. 

Just as he has departmentalized his mind to perform several 
jobs simultaneously, so he has systematized his day to find 
enough time for everything that must be done. Whenever he 
finds a free moment on a train, in a taxi, at an airport, in 
hotel lobbies he also finds the capacity of plunging into work 
completely oblivious of his surroundings or distractions. His 
powers of concentration are enormous, and with them he 
possesses an indefatigable vitality. As his wife once said: 
"Lenny never does anything in moderation. If we're playing 
anagrams, he always wants to play till dawn. If we watch the 
*Late Show' on TV he always wants to watch the 'Late Late 

Show* after that. If we go to a movie, he will want to step into 
another movie right away. If he plays with the children, he 
plays long and hard." 

Bernstein has said that "it's perfecdy possible to do all the 
things I have to." This is true, mainly because there is simply 
no musical problem he cannot solve easily and effordessly. 
There just is nothing he cannot do in music, whether it is 
to learn a monumental score in a short period of time, play a 
technically demanding concerto on the piano with almost no 
preliminary practice, write a huge symphony, dash off a pop 
tune, or arrive at some fresh, new viewpoints for his television 

Despite all his facility, and all his successes, he is really a 
perpetual worrier in continual torment that what he has 
just done was not good enough or that what he is about to do 
won't come off as well as he hopes. He (who is always being 
praised so extravagandy) frets when the critics make some 
disparaging remark about him. He abhors hearing people 
call him "versatile" or telling him he is trying to do too many 
things. He is put out by the fact that he has never really written 
an outstandingly successful hit tune. And, strange as it may 
sound of a man who has already achieved the highest pinnacles 
of fame, he worries most of all about his artistic future. 



"Who do I think I am- 

Bernstein's first and only box-office failure on 
Broadway came in 1956 with Candide. Candide is the i8th- 
century satire by Voltaire mocking the optimism of a school of 
philosophers headed by Leibnitz. Lillian Hellman made the 
adaptation for the musical stage; and the lyrics for Bernstein's 
songs were provided by Dorothy Parker, John La Touche, and 
Richard Wilbur. 

In the musical play, as in the Voltaire novel, Candide is a 
confirmed optimist, having been taught by his mentor, Dr. 
Pangloss, that this is the best of all possible worlds. Accom- 
panied by his sweetheart, Cunegonde, Candide decides to leave 
his home in Westphalia in search of truth, goodness, and 
honesty. As they wander from one city to another Lisbon, 
Paris, Buenos Aires, and so on they confront only tragedy 
and disaster, misery and human greed. At one place Candide is 
beaten, and at another he is cheated. He is even dragged down 
helplessly to the low moral level of the world around him. Bit- 
ter and disillusioned, he decides to settle down at last to cul- 
tivate his own garden. He marries Cunegonde, who by now 
is old and ugly. 

Lillian Hellman's adaptation was bold and incisive, rich with 


Leonard Bernstein 

The New York Philharmonic 

Voltaire's mockery and malice. The best lyrics had the sting 
of sharp rapier thrusts. Robert Coleman said in the Mirror that 
Candide "towers head and shoulders above most of the song- 
and-dancers youll get this or any other season. It has wry humor, 
mannered grace, and marvelous music." 

The "marvelous music" was truly a cornucopia of riches. 
Beginning with a sprightly overture which has opera-bouffc 
sparkle and vivacity (Bernstein has included it occasionally at 
some of his symphony concerts), the score went on to include 
such gay and tender melodies as "Eldorado" and "What's the 
Use?" and such witty and effervescent tunes as "Glitter and 
Be Gay" and "The Best of All Possible Worlds." In addition, 
the score contained parodies of opera arias, folk songs, music- 
hall ditties; trios, quartets, choral numbers; a waltz, mazurka, 
ballad, tango, gavotte. "None of his previous theater music," 
wrote Brooks Atkinson, "has the joyous variety, humor, and 
richness of this score." 

For all its attractions and these were truly many and varied 
Candide failed to attract audiences into the Martin Beck 
Theater. It opened on December i, 1956 and was forced to 
close after only 73 performances. It may well have been, as 
some said, that its title was a deficit; that a sprightlier and more 
commercial name might have convinced audiences that this 
was not merely an adaptation of a classic but an evening over- 
flowing with entertainment and merriment. Or Brooks Atkinson 
may have been right when he maintained that "the eighteenth- 
century philosophical tale is not ideal material for a theater 
show." In any event, Candide came and wentbut it was much 
better than its brief day would suggest. 

However, it did not pass into complete obscurity after the 
final curtain in New York. In 1958-1959 a concert version 
toured the United States. And on April 30, 1959, it was given 
in London at the Saville Theater. "I hail this as the strongest, 
wittiest musical score in town," reported John Thompson in 


the Daily Express. "This is an evening of high style. I feel 
sure Americans were wrong." 

As far as Bernstein himself was concerned, he was much 
too busy to feel anything more than passing regret or disap- 
pointment at the failure of Candidc. Even while this show was 
breathing its last heavy gasps in January of 1957, he was oc- 
cupied with many different tasks. He was conducting the New 
York Philharmonic, knee-deep at work on a new Broadway 
musical show, and writing a script on modern music for one 
of the Omnibus programs on TV. Such whirlwind activity 
gained ever greater momentum as the year of 1957 progressed. 
Beyond his many appearances with orchestras everywhere, he 
had a new script to write (this time on Bach) for a March 
appearance on television. During the summer he had his teach- 
ing duties at Tanglewood, as well as performances with the 
Boston Symphony. After that he had to make some recordings 
for Columbia. And all the while he was putting the finishing 
touches on his new Broadway musical, participating in the 
casting problems, and assisting at rehearsals. Then, one day 
after his Broadway musical opened, he flew to Israel to con- 
duct the Israel Philharmonic for the opening of the new 
Frederick R. Mann Auditorium. No sooner had he returned 
to America, a month later, than he had to memorize both the 
piano and the orchestral parts of Shostakovich's new Second 
Piano Concerto for one of the concerts of the New York 
Philharmonic. He also had to prepare the programs for six 
weeks of performances with the same orchestra, and write about 
half a dozen new scripts for his various talks both over tele- 
vision and in Carnegie Hall. 

The humor, even absurdity, of such frenetic activity did not 
fail to strike him. At one moment he stopped short and asked 
himself in bewilderment: "Who do I think I am everybody?" 


The musical production engaging Bernstein in 1957 was 
West Side Story. It opened at the Winter Garden on September 
26 o that year. Its run there of 734 performances represented 
the greatest box-office (as well as artistic) triumph Bernstein 
had thus far encountered in the theater. Then, after an ex- 
tended nationwide tour, West Side Story returned to the 
Winter Garden to begin a new engagement in April 1960. 

The original idea for West Side Story came from Jerome 
Robbins, who then interested Arthur Laurents in writing the 
text, and Bernstein the music. Robbins' initial idea a modern 
version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet placed two adoles- 
cents separated by religious differences against the setting of 
New York's Lower East Side. At that time -in 1949 the 
project remained little more than a conversation piece, since all 
three men had more pressing contractual commitments. But a 
few years later, when they met at a party, they discussed the 
problem of juvenile delinquency, then so alive in the news. 
"There it was," recalls Arthur Laurents. "Time had brought 
us a new, a better background for the musical: today's con- 
fused adolescents forming gangs to give them a sense of belong- 
ing to something, two juvenile gangs for 'both your houses'! 
Excitement turned into plans, promises, cross-my-heart-hope-to- 
die pledges." 

Early in 1954, both Laurents and Bernstein were in Holly- 
wood. Bernstein was then at work on the "brittle, brilliant and 
brutal" background music for the motion picture starring 
Marlon Brando, Waterfront (his score subsequently was nomi- 
nated for but did not win the Academy Award). While sunning 
themselves at the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel, Laurents and 
Bernstein started once again to discuss their ideas for their 
long-neglected musical. "We had begun with religion," says 
Laurents, "but that was dropped into the roomy swimming 
pool. Instead, the racial problems of Los Angeles influenced 

us to shift our play from the Lower East Side o New York to 
the Upper West Side, and the conflict to that between a 
Puerto Rican gang and a polymorphous self-styled 'American 

When Bernstein was back in New York the story and the 
background of his musical jelled further in his mind one day 
while he was driving his car. Taking a wrong exit on the 
Henry Hudson Parkway he came into the heart of New York's 
Portuguese section. "Somehow," he later recalled, "I was under 
a huge causeway, somewhere right by the river up around 
i25th Street. All around Puerto Rican kids were playing with 
the causeway as a background in a classic key, pillars, and 
Roman arches. The contrast between the setting and the kids 
was striking, fascinating. Right then and there we had our 
theme for West Side Story a contemporary setting echoing 
a classic myth. Right then and there I even had the inspiration 
for the 'Rumble' scene." 

And so, Shakespeare's Verona became the crowded slums of 
Manhattan; Romeo and Juliet were transformed into Tony and 
Maria, the latter a Portuguese girl; the famous balcony scene 
from Shakespeare's tragedy became an idyl on a fire escape; the 
feud of the Capulets and the Montagues was changed into a 
life-and-death rivalry between two teen-age gangs. One of 
these gangs was the Jets, to which Tony belonged and which 
dedicated itself to the proposition that no Puerto Ricans must 
be permitted to penetrate the Jets' territory. The other gang, 
named the Sharks, was made up entirely of Puerto Ricans, 
its leader being Maria's brother. Tony and Maria first meet in 
a gymnasium dance where they fall in love. Since they are of 
rival factions they must, from this point on, carry on their 
romance in secrecy. They eventually go through a kind of mock 
marriage ceremony in a bridal shop where Maria is employed, 
the dress dummies serving as their only guests. When a gang 
war erupts between the two factions, Tony kills Maria's brother; 

then he, in turn, meets retribution through murder by one of 
the Sharks. 

This kind of dramatic material, compelling in its realism and 
provocative with social problems, is perhaps more suitable for 
the operatic stage than for the popular theater. And the musi- 
cal play that finally emerged from the pens of Jerome Robbins, 
Arthur Laurents, Bernstein, and the lyricist Stephen Sond- 
heim, had operatic dimensions. For one thing, dance was em- 
phasized to a point where it was required to carry on much 
of the dramatic action, and in a way never before attempted 
on Broadway. West Side Story opens with a sinister dance 
performed by the two rival gangs against the somber back- 
ground of a gaunt warehouse. The play achieves a climatic 
point with an exciting mambo in a gymnasium. In "Some- 
where," a dream sequence, the romantic overtones of the play 
are gently sounded, while in "The Rumble" the grim and savage 
mood of gang war is discussed in dance movements. 

The ugliness, the bitterness, the agony, and the neuroticism 
of slum life in the city streets could also be found in Bernstein's 
music; these, and fleeting moments of poetry and beauty and 
hope that sometimes touch the lives of these tortured adoles- 
cents. The overture is nervous, discordant, high-tensioned; so 
are many of the musical episodes utilized as background tone- 
painting for some of the stage action, and some of the music 
for the dance episodes. The songs "Maria," "I Feel Pretty," 
"Somewhere," and "Tonight" provide a tender contrast to 
satirical ditties like "America" and "Gee, Officer Krupke." "Mr. 
Bernstein," wrote John McClain in the Journal- American, "is 
responsible for the true importance of the piece, for the music 
is always magnificent. There are passages worthy of grand opera, 
there are almost numbers which would do credit to a 'pop* 
musical, and the incidental phrases which highlight the scenes 
are memorable." 

In discussing West Side Story, Brooks Atkinson said: "The 


subject is not beautiful. But what West Side Story draws out o 
it is beautiful. For it has a searching point of view. . . . Every- 
thing ... is of a piece. Everything contributes to the total im- 
pression of wildness, ecstasy, and anguish." Equally enthusias- 
tic responses came from the other critics. "The show rides with 
a catastrophic roar," remarked Walter Kerr in the Herald Trib- 
une. Robert Coleman called it "sensational. ... It has earthy 
humor and simple beauty and, best of all, it has tremendous 
drive. It moves with the speed of a switchblade knife thrust." 
Frank Aston in the World-Telegram said: "By the magic of 
good music and artistic movement it built up moments of the- 
atrical beauty." 

Such unqualified enthusiasm was not restricted to the United 
States alone. On December 12, 1958, when West Side Story 
opened at Her Majesty's Theater in London, it received an 
acclaim equaled by few other American musicals. As one re- 
porter cabled to Variety: "There was not a word of criticism in 
the reviews which appeared in the dailies the following morn- 
ing, and at least one notice suggested that the new arrival topped 
My Fair Lady!' Characteristic of the English reaction to West 
Side Story were the following comments: "It is a most dynamic, 
vital, and electric musical show" (Harold Conway in the 
Daily Sketch) i "this great musical show begins a new age in 
the theater" (John Thompson in the Daily Express) ; "it struck 
London like a flash of lightning set to music, the most dynamic, 
dramatic, operatic, balletic and acrobatic of all these epics from 
Broadway" (Cecil Wilson in the Daily Mail). 

At long last, Leonard Bernstein had a symphony orchestra 
of his own: Early in 1957, Dimitri Mitropoulos, music direc- 
tor of the New York Philharmonic, announced that Bernstein 
had been engaged to share with him the direction of that 
orchestra for the coming 1957-1958 season. With eloquent 
appropriateness, the man who had first recognized Bernstein's 

potential as a conductor, and who had also been the first to con- 
vince him to consider conducting as a career, was the man who 
was now offering him one of the most desirable musical posts 
in the world. "I am sure," said Mitropoulos in commenting 
further on the Bernstein appointment, "that together we will be 
able to prepare a very sound and stimulating season." 

But the new 1957-1958 season hardly had an opportunity to 
pick up steam and hit full stride when an even more dramatic 
announcement took place. On November 19, at a luncheon at 
the Century Club in New York tendered by David M. Keiser, 
president of the New York Philharmonic, Mitropoulos an- 
nounced that at the termination of that season he was com- 
pletely relinquishing his permanent association with the or- 
chestra. On the heels of this announcement came another that, 
on Mitropoulos' suggestion and with the full approval of the 
directors of the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein 
had been engaged as the orchestra's new music director. He was 
one of the youngest men, and the only one of American birth, 
ever to hold this office. In accepting this honor, Bernstein did not 
fail to recall the part Mitropoulos had played in his own career. 
"Twenty-one years later to hear him abdicate is at once heart- 
breaking for me and at the same time it fills me with a sense 
of responsibility." Nor did Bernstein neglect to remark that 
his assumption of the post of music director had for him a 
gratifying "sense of Tightness, of naturalness." The New York 
Philharmonic, after all, had been the first symphony orchestra 
he had ever conducted; it had also been the first symphony 
orchestra to give him a job. 

The first New York Philharmonic concert led by Bernstein 
following this public announcement came on January 2, 1958. 
It provided him with an opportunity to cast a nostalgic, senti- 
mental glance at the past. Two of the numbers he performed 
that day had also appeared on the program with which he 
made his debut fourteen years earlier: the Manfred Overture 


by Schumann and Richard Strauss' Don Quixote. "His way 
with them revealed how far he had matured without losing his 
gusto and flair for the dramatic," reported Howard Taubman. 
But almost as if to emphasize further that he did not live en- 
tirely in the past, this program was also the one on which 
Bernstein played and conducted the American premiere of 
Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto. 



"The History of the Philharmonic 
Is the History of Music in Americcf 

Thus Leonard Bernstein has become the latest in 
the magistral line of great conductors to become permanently 
associated with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The New York Philharmonic is the oldest functioning sym- 
phony orchestra in America. Already more than a half century 
ago its musical significance was acknowledged when the emi- 
nent New York critic, James Gibbons Huneker, wrote that 
"the history of the Philharmonic is the history of music in 
America." The orchestra came into being more than a century 
ago in April 1842. At that time a group of dedicated New 
York music lovers gathered at the Apollo Rooms at 410 Broad- 
way to draw up plans for the creation of a symphony orches- 
tra. When later the same year the first rehearsals took place, 
the owner of the Apollo Rooms had so little faith in the sur- 
vival of the quixotic undertaking that he demanded his rental 
fee paid in advance before each rehearsal. Consequently, as the 
men of the orchestra filed into the auditorium, each one con- 
tributed twenty-five cents toward the rent. 

The first concert took place at the Apollo Rooms on December 
7, 1842. Three conductors participated in that program. U. C. 


Hill led a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; H. C. 
Timm, an overture by Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda; and D. 
Etienne the Oberon Overture of Karl Maria von Weber. 

During the first decade of its existence, the Philharmonic 
was directed at each of its concerts sometimes by two, and 
sometimes by three conductors. Members of the orchestra own- 
ing dress clothes were required to wear them at the public 
performance; all others were allowed to wear dark trousers 
and frock coat. As an economy measure, some of the orchestra 
players were required to serve as ushers before the concert. 
Another untraditional practice was to have the orchestra men 
perform standing, with the exception of the cellists. 

For many seasons, the orchestra gave only four concerts a 
year. The musicians were paid on a co-operative basis. By the 
end of the i5th season, the men were able to divide a kitty of 
$4,810 and thus earn {143 each for a season's labor. In the i6th 
season, the number of concerts a year was increased to five; 
in 1869, to six. 

Meanwhile, in 1865, the orchestra finally acquired a single per- 
manent conductor in whom full authority was vested. He was 
Carl Bergmann, who for some time before this had been sharing 
the dais with Theodore Eisfeld. Bergmann remained the per- 
manent conductor of the Philharmonic for twenty-one years. 
An uncompromising champion of the then new music of Wag- 
ner and Liszt, Bergmann was not popular with his audiences. 
More than once during his long tenure it seemed that the or- 
chestra was about to perish from lack of box-office nourishment. 
Artistically as well as financially, there were serious problems 
for the orchestra. Because the musicians were unable to earn 
a living wage exclusively from these concerts, they had to take 
on other, profitable assignments. The result was that on many 
occasions the musicians were required by their other commit- 
ments to send substitutes for some of the rehearsals, and oc- 
casionally even for the concerts themselves. It was a rare occa- 


sion, indeed, when Bergmann could perform a concert with all 
the men he had previously rehearsed. Sometimes when a solo 
clarinet player or a solo bassoon player failed to show up for 
the performance, those parts had to be hurriedly assigned to a 
violin or cello respectively. As late as 1900 this strange situation 
continued to harass Philharmonic conductors. Walter Dam- 
rosch wrote in his autobiography of his own experiences in those 
years: "I found to my amazement that of the hundred players 
at the concert less than fifty were actual members of that organi- 
zation. . . . Most of the wind instruments were outsiders and 
therefore could not be properly controlled regarding attendance 
or rehearsals." 

Bergmann left the Philharmonic in 1876 and was succeeded by 
Dr. Leopold Damrosch, the father of Walter. That season rep- 
represented the lowest ebb in the tide of the orchestra's history. 
Total receipts for the season reached a niggardly $841, hardly 
enough to pay the men anything for their work that year. Once 
again it appeared that the orchestra was about to gasp its last 

In 1877 a new conductor was found for the orchestra 
Theodore Thomas. It was his popularity that helped give the 
orchestra a new lease on life. In his fourteen-year period as 
permanent conductor, Thomas succeeded in increasing the 
attendance at his concerts to a point where in his last season 
the income from the six concerts reached the respectable figure 
of $15,000. 

After the turn of the 20th century, an expansion program was 
instituted for the Philharmonic, in which the number of con- 
certs per season was augmented to eight, each led by some out- 
standing visitor from Europe. Some of Europe's most brilliant 
conductors now crossed the Atlantic to direct the Philharmonic, 
among them being Richard Strauss, Felix Weingartner, Edouard 
Colonne, and Vassily Safonov. 

In 1907 an important milestone was reached by the orchestra. 


A radical reorganization took place in which the orchestra was 
established for the first time on a more or less sound financial 
basis. A sixteen-week season was instituted with Vassily Safonov 
as permanent conductor. Two years after that Gustav Mahler 
took over the baton. His four-year regime was a glowing chapter 
in American music, for it was with Mahler that .the New York 
Philharmonic became one of America's most renowned musical 

After Mahler came Josef Stransky, who held the post of 
principal conductor for a dozen years. One year after Stransky's 
appointment, Joseph Pulitzer endowed the orchestra with a mil- 
lion dollars to allow for further reforms. Not only was the 
season expanded again, this time to twenty-three weeks, but 
also a daily rehearsal schedule was formulated. During this 
Stransky era, the personnel of the orchestra was strengthened 
through a merger with the National Symphony in 1921. A 
second important amalgamation took place in 1928 when the 
New York Philharmonic absorbed the New York Symphony 
Society, which for many years had been directed by Walter 

Two world famous musicians now helped bring the New 
York Philharmonic to the very front rank of the world's sym- 
phonic organizations. One was Willem Mengelberg, conductor 
of the renowned Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, 
Holland. Mengelberg maintained a permanent association with 
the Philharmonic from 1922 to 1930. The other was Arturo 
Toscanini who, after a sensational Philharmonic debut in 1928, 
was its permanent conductor from 1930 to 1936. John Barbirolli 
succeeded Toscanini and stayed until 1943. After him came 
Artur Rodzinski, and in 1950 Dimitri Mitropoulos, from whom 
Bernstein inherited his post. 



"And All the Clouds That Lour'd upon 

Our House in the Deep Bosom of the 

Ocean Buried? 


"What an orchestra! 
I am a happy man" 

The all-consuming demands now made on him by 
the New York Philharmonic finally compelled Bernstein to 
concentrate his fullest energies on conducting. From mid-Oc- 
tober to April, each season, the New York Philharmonic gives 
over a hundred concerts. To plan the orchestra's over-all artistic 
program is a task of formidable proportions. Guest conductors 
and artists must be selected; the entire season's repertory must 
be carefully planned to combine the familiar with the new. To 
add still further to Bernstein's burden was the fact that he him- 
self was required to conduct some forty of these concerts. In 
the past as a guest conductor of many different orchestras in 
many different places he could repeat works with which he 
was thoroughly familiar. But as the principal conductor of a 


single orchestra he had to refurbish his repertory continually to 
keep his concerts alive and vital with premieres and novelties. 
The amount of new music he now had to study and learn each 
week was prodigious. 

Then there were peripheral duties. He had to prepare ma- 
terial for his discussions on music not only for the increasing 
number of television programs he was now required to assume, 
but also for the Saturday morning concerts for young people 
which he insisted on undertaking. There were recordings to 
be made all the time for Columbia. And there were the extended 
postseason tours with his orchestra. 

"The Philharmonic is it" he told an interviewer when he as- 
sumed the post of music director. "This is my full-time job. 
I'm going to give it everything I have. And if I fail, I fail 
honestly." Henceforth he reduced to a bare minimum the num- 
ber of his guest appearances with other orchestras. For a long 
time, he wrote no music whatsoever, serious or popular. And 
while it was true that his commitments for television and records 
were now augmented, all this was done in collaboration with 
his orchestra and consequently fell within the framework of the 
orchestra's activities each season. Only one of his former demand- 
ing connections was maintained, his summer program of teach- 
ing and conducting at Tanglewood, but even from here he was 
soon required to take a leave-of-absence. 

His new job with the Philharmonic might have been greatly 
simplified if he were willing to follow familiar grooves in the 
planning and the presentation of his concerts. But he had no 
intention of pursuing a traditional course. From the moment he 
became music director he was driven by the compulsion to 
undertake the new, the untried, the unorthodox. 

For one thing, he insisted that the over-all program each sea- 
son conform more or less to some consistent plan or follow 
some integrating motive. As he said, "An orchestra like the 
Philharmonic has to be different from that of other orchestras 


because it is New York, the center of the musical world. The 
programs should add up to something; they should have a 
theme running through them. There should always be a sense of 
festival about going to the Philharmonic." In line with such 
thinking he initiated a survey of American music from such 
older personalities as MacDowell, Ives, Foote, and Gilbert to 
such young and comparatively unknown figures as Easley 
Blackwood and Kenneth Gaburo. He introduced cycles of con- 
certs devoted to the concerto; to Mahler in honor of the com- 
poser's centenary; to Pergolesi for his 250th birthday; to Handel 
commemorating that master's bicentenary; to music for the 
theater; to 20th-century problems in music. 

He had other innovations. When he first became director he 
tried having his men wear a special outfit for rehearsals. This 
practice was subjected by the players to such ridicule and attack 
that it had to be abandoned. But other experiments were far 
more fruitful. And one of the most significant of these was the 
"Preview Concerts" initiated in the 1958-1959 season. Bernstein 
had long felt it would be advantageous for him and his orches- 
tra to have .the last rehearsal played before a live audience, as 
was sometimes the practice in Europe. Once this idea began to 
crystallize in his mind, he decided to extend it to permit that 
final rehearsal to become a kind of forum in which he could 
discuss with his audiences various musical subjects in general, 
but specifically the composers and the music he was performing 
that evening. 

He revamped the Philharmonic schedule to make the Thurs- 
day evening series the "Preview Concerts" performances in 
which the formal concert of the following afternoon was sup- 
plemented by informal comments by the conductor. 

The first "Preview" took place on the opening night of the 
1958-1959 season, on October i. The formal program included 
William Schuman's American Festival Overture, Charles Ives' 
Second Symphony, and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. There 


was also a "surprise," Berlioz' Roman Carnival Overture played 
as an encore. Between these numbers Bernstein talked, sang, 
and played the piano. All the while he maintained an informal 
manner by criticizing his own singing and piano playing. He 
spoke about the strange, unique personality of Ives, who had 
been an insurance man most of his life and who preferred lead- 
ing a lonely, isolated existence in Connecticut while writing his 
music and allowing it to gather dust on the shelves. He ex- 
plained why Ives wrote the kind of experimental music he 

"If his maiden effort at a 'preview' was any measure of what is 
to come," wrote Howard Taubman, "audiences are going to 
have a lot of fun. Occasionally they may be irritated, but they 
rarely will be bored." 

The "Preview" became an immediate, outstanding hit with the 
public. It soon became impossible to beg, steal, borrow, or buy 
a ticket for a Thursday evening concert. The following season 
subscriptions for this series jumped more than 75 per cent over 
the previous year; by the time that season began the series had 
been subscribed 99 per cent. 

The impact of Bernstein's cogent, colorful, and charming 
personality was felt in all the other Philharmonic series as well. 
Attendance jumped 20 per cent in his second season as music 
director. For the first time in the history of the orchestra, ad- 
vance sale for tickets for the 1959-1960 season passed the mil- 
lion-dollar mark. Such was the appeal of Bernstein's concerts 
that twenty additional ones had to be added to the regular 
schedule. It was also due to Bernstein's personal magnetism and 
popularity that the radio network of CBS, which broadcast the 
Philharmonic concerts over its nationwide network on Satur- 
day evenings, had to add seventy more stations to its hookup, 
bringing the total to well over two hundred. Bernstein was 
also the reason why the Philharmonic for the first time was 
being sponsored for television performances, by the Lincoln 

Division of the Ford Motor Company and in 1960-1961 by Ford 
Motor Company and Shell Oil; why the recording program 
had to be amplified as the sale of Bernstein's records soared; 
why extensive tours out of New York had to be continually pro- 
jected for -the orchestra. 

There could, then, be little question but that Bernstein had 
the natural gift for creating rapport between himself and his 
public. But if, as many critics remarked, the Philharmonic 
seemed to acquire a "new sound" under Bernstein an enthu- 
siasm, feeling of excitement, electricity, and cohesion in its 
playing it had not known for some years it was also because 
Bernstein had a rare gift of capturing the affection, co-operation, 
and enthusiasm of the men who worked under him. 

The men of the orchestra were, of course, grateful to him 
because his fabulous popularity made possible for them heavy 
increases in revenue each year. But there were other reasons, 
too, why they worked so enthusiastically for him. They liked 
the way despite his awesome office of music director he 
never tried to put on a false pose of grandeur; the way he never 
assumed dictatorial attitudes; the way he never badgered them. 
If one of them made a mistake at a rehearsal, he would often 
disregard it discreetly; then when the passage was repeated 
and the mistake was rectified, he would smile pleasantly at the 
perpetrator. He himself might suffer inner torment when some- 
thing went wrong at a concert, but he rarely inflicted his own 
personal suffering on the ones to blame. He would merely talk 
gently to the offender and explain how such mistakes could best 
be avoided in the future. 

The orchestra liked his lively manner, his informal ways, 
his charm and gaiety both at and away from rehearsals. The 
men appreciated the fact that he always stood ready to praise 
them when they played well. "What an orchestra!" he once 
exclaimed after a rehearsal. "What sensitivity! What vigor! 
I'm a happy man!" 


One of the men of the orchestra reflected not merely his own 
personal reaction but that of his colleagues when he remarked 
to this writer: "We worshiped Toscanini, but we love Lenny." 
Love from men he must necessarily drive long and hard in order 
to attain the best possible performance is perhaps the most 
eloquent tribute an orchestra can pay its conductor. 



"Audiences are the same 
the world over" 

On April 27, 1958, Leonard Bernstein and the New 
York Philharmonic embarked on two planes for a tour of 
South and Central America. (Two additional planes carried 
eight tons of baggage and the instruments.) The sponsorship 
was President Eisenhower's Special International Program for 
Cultural Presentations administered by the American National 
Theater and Academy. During the next 7 weeks, they traveled 
15,000 miles, gave 39 concerts in 21 cities of 12 different countries. 
The paying audience totaled more than 200,000 but a far 
greater audience heard some of these concerts over radio and 
television. During the first 4% weeks Bernstein was the orches- 
tra's sole conductor. Sometimes he led as many as 6 performances 
a week, occasionally filling the role of pianist-conductor in 
performances of the Ravel G major Concerto. Dimitri Mi- 
tropoulos later conducted n concerts. For Mitropoulos these 
were to be his first appearances in South America; Bernstein's 
only previous performances there had been in 1954, in Brazil. 
The tour's opening concert took place in Panama City; the 
closing one, in Mexico City. Between these two widely separated 
geographical points the orchestra was heard in Caracas and 
Maracaibo in Venezuela; Bogota in Colombia; La Paz in 
Bolivia; Asuncion in Paraguay; Santiago and Vina del Mar in 


Chile; Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Cordoba in Argentina; 
Quito in Ecuador; Montevideo in Uruguay; and Sao Paulo, Rio 
de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre in Brazil. Never before had a major 
symphony orchestra undertaken such an extensive jaunt through 
the South and Central American countries. Some of the cities 
visited had never before heard an orchestra of international 
importance; in others, their only contact with symphonic music 
had been through performances by a local ensemble. It is then 
easy to sec why the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein 
should have been a revelation to music lovers there. 

On each of his programs, Bernstein played at least one con- 
temporary American work by Copland, Roy Harris, Barber, 
Gershwin, Schuman, and Charles Turner. Each concert was 
also prefaced by the playing of the American national anthem 
and that of the visited country. In Venezuela, the President im- 
plored Bernstein to repeat his performance of the Venezulean 
anthem because he had never before heard it played so beauti- 

Wherever they came, orchestra and conductor were given 
a hero's welcome: feted by local officials and music groups, 
by American embassies and cultural organizations. At the con- 
certs there were always unparalleled demonstrations of enthu- 
siasm. It was impossible to meet the demand for tickets. Box- 
office records were smashed in one city after another. In Sao 
Paulo there was such a storm of protest on the part of those 
unable to gain admission into the Municipal Theater for the 
three scheduled concerts that a special performance was hastily 
improvised in an open-air auditorium accommodating thirty 
thousand. There was almost a riot threatening to tear apart 
the theater in La Paz, instigated by those who could not buy a 
ticket. At the Bolivar Theater in Quito seats had to be improvised 
wherever there was an empty space. When, in Montevideo, the 
day on which the box office would open for the sale of tickets 
was announced, thousands queued up outside the theater twenty- 

four hours before the sale began; these music lovers, equipped 
with food and mattresses, waited patiently through the night 
for the box office to open. 

Nobody, it seemed, would stay away if he could help it. 
Heads of states down to the humblest swarmed to the audi- 
toriums. The Presidents of Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Para- 
guay received Bernstein in their official boxes during intermis- 
sion to express their enthusiasm. In La Paz, the President at- 
tended the city's opening concert even though only a few hours 
earlier he had put down a revolt in the provinces. In Bogota, 
General Gabriel Paris made an appearance, though only two 
days before this he had been kidnapped and wounded in a 
police rebellion. In Quito and Cordoba, local professional musi- 
cians stood three-deep in the wings of the stage listening to the 

In Quito, Ecuador, Bernstein and some of the Philharmonic 
men were so affected by the altitude that midway in the pro- 
gram they were forced to take deep breaths of oxygen. Never- 
theless the quality of the performance was not affected. "Never 
has Quito enjoyed such superb music," exclaimed Ernest Xanco, 
director of the Quito National Orchestra. He was speaking for 
himself, but he might well have been speaking for all of South 
and Central America. 

Ambitious and unprecedented though this tour had been, 
it was only the prelude for a greater, more historic, more prece- 
dent-shattering jaunt the following year. The fervent, passionate 
Latin-American reactions to Leonard Bernstein's musicmaking 
were hardly more than echoes when compared to the storms of 
approval aroused in 1959 when the New York Philharmonic 
under Bernstein made an epoch-making tour of Europe, the 
Near East, and countries behind the Iron Curtain. Once again 
these concerts were made possible by President Eisenhower's 
Special International Program for Cultural Presentations. 

This musical voyage began in Athens, Greece, on August 5, 


1959- During the next 10 weeks, the orchestra gave 50 concerts 
in 29 cities of 17 countries: Athens and Salonika in Greece; 
Baalbek in Lebanon; Istanbul in Turkey; Salzburg in Austria; 
Warsaw in Poland; Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev in the Soviet 
Union; Scheveningen in Holland; Diisseldorf, Essen, Wiese- 
baden, Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin in Germany; Luxem- 
bourg; Paris in France; Basel in Switzerland; Belgrade and Za- 
greb in Yugoslavia; Venice and Milan in Italy; Oslo in Nor- 
way; Helsinki and Turku in Finland; Stockholm and Goteborg 
in Sweden; and London in England. Five festivals were in- 
cluded, those at Athens, Baalbek, Salzburg, Venice, and Berlin; 
at Baalbek and Salzburg this was the first time an American 
orchestra was represented. In Moscow, the concerts were given 
in conjunction with the American Exposition opened there that 
summer by Vice President Nixon. 

Bernstein conducted thirty-seven of these concerts, the others 
being directed by two other young Americans, Thomas Schip- 
pers and Seymour Lipkin. The repertory embraced classic sym- 
phonies, concertos, and other familiar repertory works; but 
with them came modern American music by Barber, Bernstein 
(The Age of Anxiety), Copland, Diamond, Gershwin, Ives, 
and Piston. In three compositions Bernstein appeared both as 
pianist and conductor: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Bee- 
thoven's Triple Concerto, and Mozart's Piano Concerto in G 
major, K. 453. 

This was the most extensive tour ever undertaken by the 
New York Philharmonic, as well as the most triumphant. This 
was also the first time this orchestra performed in the Soviet 
Union and other Iron Curtain countries; the first time that any 
American orchestra appeared abroad conducted exclusively by 
native-born musicians. 

So much for essential facts and details. 

As the journey progressed from one city to the next, from one 
country to another, dramatic incident piled upon dramatic in- 

cident, ovation followed ovation, in tidal waves. After the 
Warsaw concert, there took place a forty-five minute demon- 
stration. The ovation in Munich was arrested only after Bern- 
stein and the orchestra played two encores. In Oslo, the con- 
cert proved the most significant musical event in that city in 
many years; it was attended by King Olav V, Princess Astrid, 
and Ambassadors from most of the major European countries 
as well as that of the United States. In Yugoslavia, one critic 
said of the orchestra, "I never heard sound like that before," 
while a second critic called it "the best orchestra I have ever 
heard." At The Hague, the critic of Het Vadcrland described 
the performance as "phenomenal" In Basel, Dr. Fritz Ernst 
(music critic for the local newspaper, and director of the Basel 
Radio) said, in commenting on the audience reaction: <e We have 
never seen anything like this before." 

Music lovers stood patiently outside the concert hall often 
for hours outside the hotel where Bernstein and the orchestra 
were stopping to have a look at the musicians, touch them, 
shout their affection and admiration. And so it went, ever more 
rapturous praises from the critics, ever more hysterical responses 
from audiences, ever more sentimental tokens of esteem and 
affection and simple homage from the masses. 

But it was the Soviet Union that proved for Bernstein the 
most overwhelming experience of the tour, and probably of his 
entire career. 

The first concert in the Soviet Union took place at the con- 
cert hall of the Tschaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow on 
August 22. The enthusiasm of the audience began to percolate 
with Bernstein's stirring presentation of the Soviet national 
anthem with which the concert opened (played in a brisker 
tempo than that to which Russians are accustomed). After that, 
the excitement kept mounting spiral-like from one number to 
the next, from Barber's Essay No. 2 through Mozart's Piano 
Concerto in G major, the latter providing Soviet music lovers 

with what for them was an unfamiliar spectacle of having a 
musician double as conductor and solo pianist. The culmination 
of the excitement that night was reached after a breathless per- 
formance of the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony. An official of 
the Tschaikovsky Conservatory later said: "This is the first 
time we have heard Shostakovich played so well." Dimitri 
Kabalevsky, himself a renowned Soviet composer, wrote in 
one of the Soviet Newspapers: "Not a single detail of Shosta- 
kovich's Fifth Symphony escaped Bernstein's attention, and at 
the same time the breadth of the performance was so great as 
to be rarely heard in performances of this symphony." 

Within the hall itself, after the massive concluding chords, the 
audience was swept out of its seats to shout "Bravo!" and "Bis!" 
("Bis" being the European term for "encore"). Bernstein (who 
had been studying Russian for several weeks) shouted back: 
"Bolshoi spasibo!" ("Many thanks!") "Mr. Bernstein, limp and 
perspiring from the rigors of the concert and its reception," a 
correspondent cabled to The New Yorl( Times, "said he had 
never had such an ovation." He was called back for bows 
countless number of times. Bouquets were thrown at him. 
Finally, to placate this uncontrollable clamor, Bernstein gave two 
encores with the orchestra: Berlioz* Roman Carnival Overture 
and the Scherzo movement of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. 
He himself announced each of these two numbers in precise, 
correct Russian, and each number engendered still new out- 
bursts of cheering. 

After the audience started to file out of the hall, some of 
Russia's leading musicians came backstage to shake Bernstein's 
hand and tell him through an interpreter how deeply his con- 
cert had moved them. There was the eminent Soviet violinist, 
Leonid Kogan; the fine young pianist, Vladimir Ashkanazy; 
the distinguished Armenian composer, Aram Khatchaturian. 
Shostakovich was out of town and could not come to this con- 
cert; he would hear his symphony played by Bernstein at a 

later date. Khatchaturian exclaimed that the Philharmonic 
consisted of "marvelous musicians, many of them surely great 
artists." Leonid Kogan subsequently wrote in Pravda that "in 
Bernstein's distinguished appearance happily there is to be 
found great musicality, a genuine temperament, and a high 
feeling for most different musical styles." 

For his third Moscow concert, on August 24, Bernstein 
planned an unusual program: Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano 
and Wind Orchestra, never before heard in Russia; the same 
composer's ballet suite, The Rite of Spring; and a provocative 
work by Charles Ives, also a stranger in Russia, The Unan- 
swered Question. For this occasion, Bernstein felt the need of 
some explanatory comment on his part. In the same charming 
and informal manner with which he had won the hearts of 
Americans over television he proceeded through an interpreter 
to tell the Russian audience something about Ives' theories on 
music, the pecularities of his style and idiom in The Unanswered 
Question. He also made pertinent remarks about Stravinsky, 
as the revolutionist who changed the destiny of modern music 
with The Rite of Spring, and as the neo classicist who began 
looking back to music's past with his piano concerto. <e lt was 
not merely a tremendously successful performance,'* cabled 
Osgood Caruthers to The New Yor^ Times, "but also one of 
the most exciting events in Moscow's recent musical history.** 
The Ives composition made such a strong impression that Bern- 
stein was tempted to ask his audience if it would like to hear 
it a second time. Encouraged by a resounding cheer, Bernstein 
repeated his performance. 

Bernstein's forty-first birthday on August 25 was not neg- 
lected. After the morning rehearsal, Bernstein was given an in- 
formal party at the Ukraina Hotel by officials of the orchestra. 
All day long gifts arrived from lifelong American and new 
Soviet friends. The director of the Tschaikovsky Conservatory 
presented him with a beautifully bound score of Prokofiev's 

opera, War and Peace. The librarian of the Moscow Symphony 
gave him an old photograph of one of the greatest conductors 
of the late igth and early 20th centuries, Artur Nikisch whom 
Bernstein described as his "musical grandfather," since Nikisch 
had been one of Koussevitzky's teachers. A young Soviet com- 
poser brought him a work written in his honor and constructed 
from one of the themes from Bernstein's clarinet sonata. "Your 
piece," remarked Bernstein graciously, "is better than your 
theme." But what was perhaps the greatest gift of all came that 
evening at his concert: an overpowering manifestation of affec- 
tion, appreciation, and homage on the part of the audience that 
was, as Bernstein said, "truly fabulous and unexpected." Later 
the same night Soviet officials gave Bernstein a second birthday 

The Soviet tour then progressed to six equally triumphant per- 
formances in Leningrad and four in Kiev. After that came three 
more concerts in Moscow. Now the darling of all Russia, Bern- 
stein was honored in Moscow by the Soviet Ministry for Cul- 
ture with a gala party on September 10. Strolling Russian 
violinists played sentimental folk music. Red Army dancers 
performed their corybantic routines. A Russian puppet show was 
a third attraction. After that nine Philharmonic musicians 
reciprocated with a jam session, and Bernstein with perform- 
ances at the piano of jazz and boogie-woogie. 

At Bernstein's last appearance in the Soviet Union on Sep- 
tember n, he repeated his performance of the Shostakovich 
Fifth Symphony, this time with the composer in the audience. 
Shostakovich jumped from his seat, leaped to the stage, and 
embraced Bernstein as the audience gave them a standing ova- 
tion. Twelve young girls brought huge bouquets, distributing 
the flowers to the men of the orchestra. Backstage, Dimitri 
Kabalevsky, Prokofiev's widow, and two eminent Soviet con- 
ductors (Kirin Kondrashin and Alexander Gauk) were among 

those waiting to throw their arms around Bernstein in a token 
of spontaneous affection. 

That concert had been the peak of a particularly trying day 
both for Bernstein and the orchestra. They had been working 
hard since early morning when a selected audience of Conserv- 
atory students and musicians had been invited to the filming 
of a television program (seen in the United States on October 
25) in which Bernstein pointed up the similarities between Soviet 
and American music with specific references to Shostakovich's 
Seventh Symphony and Copland's Billy the Kid. So exhausted 
was the orchestra when the night's concert ended that for the 
first time in their Russian visit they were incapable of playing 
any encores. Bernstein himself led the men off the stage. Then, 
since the audience refused to empty the auditorium, he sat 
down at the piano and played. 

Two sentimental episodes further dramatized for Bernstein 
his first visit to the Soviet Union. After one of his Moscow 
concerts, a backstage visitor identified himself as Bernstein's 
uncle, Simeon. When the orchestra departed for Leningrad, 
Simeon Bernstein went with it. There, on September 3, Lenny 
arranged to have him speak over the telephone to Boston the 
first contact Simeon had had with his brother in forty-nine 

Less personal, no doubt, but hardly less moving, was Bern- 
stein's meeting with Boris Pasternak. Pasternak is the author of 
the novel, Dr. Zhivago, which was highly critical of life in the 
Soviet Union. It had been smuggled out of the country and 
published successfully in Europe and the United States, after 
which it received the Nobel Prize for Literature. This monu- 
mental success earned for Pasternak only severe rebuke from 
Soviet authors and officials. He was practically in disgrace, 
scrupulously avoided by his fellow Soviet writers and artists. 
He was living in comparative obscurity in Peredelino, fifteen 


miles out of Moscow. Bernstein made it a special point to seek 
him out. On September 9 he visited Pasternak at his retreat, 
where they enjoyed a long conversation. "He is the most com- 
plete artist I have ever met," said Bernstein of this meeting. 
"Never have I felt so close to the esthetic truth." Bernstein in- 
vited Pasternak to attend his final Moscow concert. This was 
the author's first public appearance since winning the Nobel 
Prize. After the concert, Pasternak told Bernstein: "Thank you 
for taking us into heaven. Now we must return to earth." (Paster- 
nak died at his home in Moscow in late Spring of 1960.) 

The New York Philharmonic left the Soviet Union on Sep- 
tember 13 to continue its march through Europe. The last 
European concert took place at the Royal Festival Hall in 
London on October 10. One day later, conductors, orchestra, 
and baggage were lifted by KLM across the Atlantic to Wash- 
ington, D.C., where a pre-season performance had been scheduled 
for October 12. In a special ceremony, Bernstein was given the 
key to the city, and on October 13 he was the guest of honor 
at a luncheon of the National Press Club, where he spoke of 
some of his Russian experiences. He was unqualifiedly enthu- 
siastic of the people and the reception they gave him, but he 
was also candid in his criticism of Soviet musicians for their 
discouragement of all experimental music and their inclination 
to live comfortably with dead traditions. These remarks caused 
no little consternation in the Soviet Union, where intelligent, 
constructive criticism is usually regarded as a form of attack. 

On October 15, Bernstein and orchestra were given an official 
welcome home in New York by Mayor Wagner. At a ceremony 
in City Hall, the Mayor proclaimed that week as "Philharmonic 
Week" and presented Bernstein with a gold key to the city. 

When the new season of the Philharmonic began in Carnegie 
Hall on Thursday evening, October 16, signs all along 57th 
Street proclaimed: "Welcome Home International Heroes." 
The hall itself was bedecked with flags, banners, and greenery. 


When Bernstein came on the stage to play the national anthem, 
a tumultuous welcome greeted him; and as had been the case 
in Moscow, the welcome developed into a veritable hurricane 
after his performance of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. 

Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic had spoken 
through that Shostakovich symphony, and other great musical 
works o art, to the peoples o many different nationalities; 
people with languages and customs different from their own; 
people raised in far different political and social backgrounds. 
But all these different nations had understood the messages of 
beauty and truth Bernstein was bringing them, because the 
language of music is universal. "The longer I live," remarked 
Bernstein about these experiences, "the more I'm convinced that 
audiences are the same the world over." 



"Whither Lenny?" 

Since 1958 Leonard Bernstein has been showered 
with honors of all kinds. He has received the Ditson Award, 
a citation from the National Music Council, and an award 
from the American Symphony Orchestra League for "distin- 
guished" and "outstanding services to American music." He 
has been given the medal of the City of New York and the 
John H. Finley Medal for service to New York City. His tele- 
vision programs have been honored with the Sylvania and the 
George Foster Peabody Awards, probably the highest tributes 
coming to a television performer. From Vice President Nixon 
he received the award of the Institute of International Educa- 
tion. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine presented him 
with the Albert Einstein Commemorative Award in the Arts. 
He was -the recipient of citations from ASCAP, the Insti- 
tute of High Fidelity Manufacturers, and the New York News- 
paper Guild. And the awards and citations keep coming all 
the time. 

He is already the most highly acclaimed and most adulated 
American musician of his or any other time. Behind him lie 


his formidable triumphs as conductor, composer of concert 
music, composer of musical-comedy scores, pianist, lecturer, 
teacher, and author. Whatever else he may accomplish in the 
future, he has already won for himself a place without prece- 
dent in the music of this generation. 

Truly it has been a career without parallel. In an age of 
specialization, he had been an eclectic, deservedly likened to 
the great men of the Renaissance who were so amazingly ver- 
satile. In an art where success in any single endeavor usually 
comes only after the most arduous, painstaking, and intensive 
background and experience he won fabulous recognition with 
maiden efforts. He had never conducted a symphony orchestra 
when he made his fantastic debut with the New York Phil- 
harmonic, and with a single performance he won nationwide 
recognition. He had never written a composition for orchestra 
when the Jeremiah Symphony became one of the most exten- 
sively performed new American works of its time, the recipient 
of the New York Music Critics Circle Award. He had never be- 
fore written a ballet or a musical comedy when Fancy Free and 
On the Town achieved successes of the first magnitude. 

He is a concert pianist who never gave a recital in his life. 
He became the only American-born conductor to direct per- 
formances in one of the world's supreme opera theaters, the 
La Scala in Milan, without ever having appeared before in any 
other formal opera house. His first book, The Joy of Music, 
published in 1959, became a national best seller. Indeed, as one 
writer once said of him, Bernstein is a man who always starts 
at the top. 

With his richest, most mature, and most productive years still 
ahead, where can a man go who not only is already at the top 
of everything he has tried in music, but who also has tried to 
do just about everything? 

One thing is certain: He will not, he cannot, stand still. His 

restless energy, insatiable curiosity, immense creative resources, 
and driving necessity to express himself in all fields of music 
will never permit him the luxury of resting satisfied with past 
achievements. No doubt, a berth on the top is a highly com- 
fortable one that encourages relaxation. But for Bernstein even 
the top must remain a step toward a still higher sphere of 

There are those who still keep on insisting that Bernstein 
is trying to do too many things at once. Who ever heard say 
these skeptics of one man achieving significance in so many 
different areas? Such critics refuse to take into account the 
salient fact that genius is ever a law unto himself, sui generis. 
True genius must create the rules by which he can best func- 
tion; it does not try to live and create according to rules estab- 
lished by others. Beethoven made his own rules when he created 
his greatest masterworks while stone deaf; Wagner made his 
own rules when he spent a quarter of a century creating monu- 
mental music dramas for stage techniques, voices, and an orches- 
tra then not able to meet his artistic demands; Delius made his 
own rules when, blind, he dictated his last works to an aman- 
uensis. And so on, through musical history. None of these 
masters looked back to precedent for what an inner, irresistible 
artistic compulsion led them to do. 

Leonard Bernstein is a genius, and it is just as ridiculous to 
indict him for branching out so fruitfully in so many ways as 
it would have been to condemn Beethoven for trying to write 
music while deaf, Delius while blind, and Wagner for producing 
works so far ahead of their time. Like all true genius before 
him, Bernstein can go only where his overwhelming drives 
lead him. 

Prophecy is a thankless, often futile, always dangerous, task. 
Nevertheless, from what we already know of Bernstein, both as 
a man and an artist, we can hardly resist the temptation of fore- 


seeing for him an ever richer, more rewarding and more pro- 
ductive career and in every conceivable facet of musicmaking. 
He would not be Leonard Bernstein if he had done otherwise 
in the past. He would not be Leonard Bernstein if he were 
to do otherwise in the future. 



I. Works by Leonard Bernstein ... . 157 

II. Recordings of Leonard Bernstein's Music ... 163 

III. About Leonard Bernstein 165 



Works by Leonard Bernstein 


Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. First performance: Boston, 
April 21, 1942, David Glazer, clarinetist, and Leonard Bern- 
stein, pianist. 


Jeremiah Symphony. First performance: Pittsburgh, January 
28, 1944, Leonard Bernstein conducting the Pittsburgh Sym- 
phony and Jennie Tourel, soloist. 


Seven Anniversaries, for solo piano, (i) Aaron Copland; (2) 
Shirley Bernstein; (3) Serge Koussevitzky; (4) William Schu- 
man; (5) Paul Bowles; (6) Nathalie Koussevitzky; (7) Alfred 
Eisner. First performance: New York, October 13, 1944, Gor- 
don Manley, 


I Hate Music: Song Cycle of Five Kid Songs, (i) My Mother 
Says Babies Come in Bottles; (2) Jupiter Has Seven Rooms; 
(3) I Hate Music; (4) A Big Indian and Little Indian; (5) I 
Just Found Out Today. First Performance: New York, Novem- 
ber 13, 1943, Jennie Tourel. 


Fancy Free, ballet. First performance: Metropolitan Opera 
House, New York, April 18, 1944, the Ballet Theater, Leonard 
Bernstein conducting. 

On the Town, musical comedy. Book and lyrics by Betty 
Comden and Adolph Green, based on an idea by Jerome Rob- 
bins. First performance: Adelphi Theater, New York, Decem- 
ber 28, 1944. Cast included Sono Osato, Betty Comden, Adolph 
Green, and Nancy Walker. Staged by George Abbott. Chore- 
ography by Jerome Robbins (463 performances). Musical Num- 
bers: I Feel Like I'm Not Out of Bed Yet; New York, New 
York; Miss Turnstiles; Come Up to My Place; I Get Carried 
Away; Lonely Town; Do Re Do; I Can Cook; Lucky to Be 
Me; Sailors on the Town; So Long! I'm Blue; You Got Me; 
I Understand; Subway to Coney Island; Gabey in the Play- 
ground of the Rich; Some Other Time; Coney Island. 


Hashfyvenu, for four-part mixed voices, cantor, and organ. 
First performance: Park Avenue Synagogue, New York, May 
u, 1945. 


Facsimile, ballet. First performance: Broadway Theater, New 
York, October 24, 1946, the Ballet Theater, Leonard Bernstein 


La Bonne cuisine, song cycle, (i) Plum Pudding; (2) Queues 
de boeuf; (3) Tavocik guennksis; (4) Civet a toute vitesse. 
First performance: New York, October i, 1948, Marion Bell. 


Elegy for Mippy I f for horn and piano; Elegy for Mippy II, 
for solo trombone; Fanfare for Bima, for trumpet, horn, trom- 

bone, and tuba; Rondo for Lifey, for trumpet and piano; Waltz 
for Mippy III, for tuba and piano. First complete performance: 
New York, April 8, 1959. 


Four Anniversaries, for solo piano, (i) Felicia Montealegre; 
(2) Johnny Mehegan; (3) David Diamond; (4) Helen Coates. 
First performance: Cleveland, October i, 1948, Eudice Podell. 


The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2, for piano and orches- 
tra. First performance: Boston, April 8, 1949, the Boston Sym- 
phony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky conducting and Leonard 
Bernstein soloist. Music of the symphony was utilized for a 
ballet of the same name introduced by the New York City 
Ballet in New York on February 26, 1950. 


Incidental music to Peter Pan, by James M. Barrie, presented 
at the Imperial Theater on April 24, 1950, starring Jean Arthur 
and Boris Karlofl. Musical numbers: Who Am I?; My House; 
Peter, Peter; Never Land; Drink Blood; The Plank. 


Trouble in Tahiti, one-act opera. First performance: Festival 
of Creative Arts, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., Leon- 
ard Bernstein conducting, June 12, 1952. 

Wonderful Town, musical comedy. Book by Joseph Fields 
and Jerome Chodorov based on the play, My Sister Eileen by 
Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov, derived from stories by 
Ruth McKenny. Lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. 
First performance: Winter Garden, February 25, 1953. Cast in- 
cluded Rosalind Russell and Edith Adams. Staged by George 
Abbott. Dances and musical numbers staged by Donald Saddler 

(556 performances). Musical numbers: Christopher Street; Ohio; 
One Hundred Easy Ways; What a Waste; A Little Bit of 
Love; Pass the Football; Conversation Piece; A Quiet Girl; 
Conga; My Darlin' Eileen; Swing; It's Love; Ballet at the 
Village Vortex; Wrong Note Rag. 


Serenade, for violin solo, strings, and percussion. First per- 
formance: Venice, Italy, September 12, 1954, Leonard Bern- 
stein conducting, Issac Stern soloist. Music was utilized for 
ballet, Serenade for Seven, first performed at the Spoleto Festi- 
val, Italy, July 1959. 

Incidental music to Waterfront, a motion-picture starring 
Marlon Brando. Columbia Pictures. Released July 28, 1954. 


Incidental music to The Larl{, by Jean Anouilh, adapted by 
Lillian Hellman, presented at the Longacre Theater on Novem- 
ber 17, 1955, starring Julie Harris. 

Prelude, Fanfare and Riffs, for orchestra. First performance: 
ABC-TV, Omnibus program, October 16, 1955, Leonard Bern- 
stein conducting. 


Candidc, musical comedy. Book by Lillian Hellman based 
on Voltaire's satirical novel of the same name. Lyrics by Richard 
Wilbur, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker. Cast included 
Max Adrian, Robert Rouseville, Barbara Cook, and Irra Pettina. 
Staged by Tyrone Guthrie, with the assistance of Tom Brown 
(73 performances). Musical numbers: The Best of All Possible 
Worlds; Oh, Happy We; It Must Be So; Oh, What a Day for 
a Holiday; It Must Be Me; Glitter and Be Gay; We're Dead, 
You Know; Pilgrim's Processional; I Am Easily Assimilated; 


Quartet Finale; Eldorado; We Are Women; Bon Voyage; 
What's the Use?; Fve Got Trouble; Make Our Garden Grow. 


West Side Story, musical play. Book by Arthur Laurents based 
on a conception of Jerome Robbins. Lyrics by Stephen Sond- 
heim. Cast included Carol Lawrence, Chita Rivera, and Larry 
Kert. Directed and with choreography by Jerome Robbins 
(734 performances). Musical numbers: Prologue; Jet Song; 
Something's Coming; The Dance at the Gym; Maria; Tonight; 
America; Cool; One Hand, One Heart; Tonight; The Rumble; 
I Feel Pretty; Somewhere; Gee, Officer Krupke; A Boy Like 
That; I Have a Love; Taunting; Finale. 


The Joy of Music. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1959. 
Includes seven Omnibus television scripts. 



Recordings of Leonard 
Bernstein's music 

The Age of Anxiety. New York Philharmonic, Leonard 
Bernstein conducting. Columbia ML-^y.^ 

Candide. Original cast album. Columbia 01-5180. 

Fancy Free. New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein 
conducting, Columbia CL-o,2o; RCA-Victor Symphony, Leon- 
ard Bernstein conducting, Camden 196; Ballet Theater Orches- 
tra, Maurice Levine conducting, Capitol P-832O. 

Jeremiah Symphony. Pittsburgh Symphony, Leonard Bern- 
stein conducting. Camden 196. 

On the Town. Mary Martin and others. Decca 8030; Original 
cast album, Columbia (hi preparation). 

Peter Pan. Incidental Music. Mary Martin. Columbia 4312. 

Seven Anniversaries. Leonard Bernstein. Camden 214. 

Serenade, for violin solo, strings, and percussion. Symphony 
o the Air, Leonard Bernstein conducting. Columbia ML-5I44- 

Trouble in Tahiti. Original television cast album. MGM 

West Side Story. Original cast album, Columbia 01^-5230; 
Ballet music, RCA Victor Symphony, Robert Russell Bennett, 
conducting, Victor LM-234O; The Prince Orchestra, Warner 
Brothers, 6-1240. 

Wonderful Town. Original cast album. Columbia OL-536b. 


Television Broadcasts 

Bernstein on Beethoven. Columbia CL-9i8. 
What Is Jazz? Columbia 



About Leonard Bernstein 

Barrett, Marvin: "The Five Careers of Leonard Bernstein." 

Reader's Digest, May 1960. 
Close-Up : "Busy Time for a Young Maestro." Life, January 7, 


Harris, Eleanor: "The Happy Genius." Saturday Evening Post, 
June 16, 1956. 

Lindsay, David R.: "The Remarkable, Musical Mr. Bernstein." 
Coronet, December 1956. 

Moor, Paul: "Leonard Bernstein: Ceiling Unlimited." Harper's, 
February 1948. 

Morton, Frederic: "The Exceptional Musician: Leonard Bern- 
stein." Holiday, October 1959. 

Rice, Robert: "The Pervasive Musician." A two-part Profile, 
The New Yorker, January 11-18, 1958. 

Richmond, John: "Portrait of a Genius." Tomorrow, May 1945. 

Roddy, Joseph: "Who Lives at Carnegie Hall?" High Fidelity 
Magazine, February 1959. 

Schonberg, Harold C.: "New Job for the Protean Mr. Bern- 
stein." The New YorJ^ Times Magazine, December 22, 1957. 

Schonberg, Harold C.: "What Bernstein Is Doing to the Phil- 
harmonic. Harper's, May 1959. 

Schubart, Mark A.: "A Triple Note Man of the Music World" 
The New Yor\ Times Magazine, January 28, 1945. 

Time Magazine Cover Story: "Wunderkind." Time, February 

4> 1957- 



Abbott, George, 75, 76, no, in, 

158, 159 

Accompanist, Bernstein as, 24, 47 

Adams, Edith, 159 

Adelphi Theater, 76 

Adrian, Max, 160 

Advocate, The, 24 

Age of Anxiety, The, 102-104, 142, 

159, 163 
All in One, 108 
Amber, Lenny, 49 
Amberg, George, 72 
American Ballet Theater, 71 
American Exposition in Russia, 142 
American Federation of Musicians, 

44. 9 1 
American National Theater and 

Academy, 139 
Anouilh, Jean, 160 
Apollo Rooms, 129 
Argentina, appearances in, 140 
Arrau, Claudio, 105 
Arthur, Jean, 159 
Ashkanazy, Vladimir, ' 144 
Aston, Frank, 126 
Athletics, success in, 15 
Atkinson, Brooks, 76, in, 121, 125 
Auden, W. H., 102 
Austria, appearances in, 90, 142 

Awards received by Bernstein, 70, 
73, 95> *04> no, 151 

Bach, 63, 64, 99 

talk on, 115-116, 122 
Baehr, Johann, 60 
Ballet, 72 
Ballet music, for Facsimile, 101-102 

for Fancy Free, 71-73 

for Serenade for Seven, 112 
Ballet Theater, 71, 101 
Bankhead, Tallulah, 42-43 
Barber, Samuel, 88, 140, 142, 143 
Barbirolli, John, 132 
Bartok, Bela, 87, 93, 100 
Baton, use of, 60-61 
Beecham, Sir Thomas, 88 
Beethoven, 7, 37, 63, 64, 99, 135, 
142, 153 

talk on, 114-115, 164 
Belgium, appearances in, 90 
Bell, Marion, 158 
Bennett, Robert Russell, 163 
Berg, Alban, 87 
Bergmann, Carl, 130-131 
Berkshire Music Center, 38-43, 46, 

51, 106 

Berkshire Symphonic Festival, 37, 


Berlin, Irving, 32 

Berlioz, Hector, 61, 136, 144 

Bernstein, Alexander Serge, 117 

Burton, 9 

Jamie, 117 

Jennie, 9 

Samuel Joseph, 7-9, 12, 17, 2021, 
22, 31, 45, 47, 55 

Shirley, 9, n, 14, 18, 50, 73, 106, 


Simeon, 147 
Biancolli, Louis, 112 
Blackwood, Easley, 135 
Blitzstein, Marc, 25-27, 30, 87 
Bloch, Ernest, 68 
Bolivia, appearances in, 139 
Bonne cuisine, La, 102, 158 
Boston, Bernstein family in, 9 

On the Town in, 75 
Boston Latin School, 15, 21 
Boston Opera House, 73 
Boston Pops Orchestra, 68 
Boston Public School Orchestra, 


Boston Symphony, 19, 28, 37, 38, 42, 
68, 69, 87, 89, 93-94, I0 3> 122 

difficulties with union, 44-45 
Bowles, Paul, 157 
Brahms, 35, 63, 64, 99, 104 
Brandeis University, 107, 108, 113 
Brando, Marlon, 123, 160 
Brazil, appearances in, 140 
Britten, Benjamin, 88 
Brooklinc, Massachusetts, 46 
Brown, Tom, 160 
Bruckner, 63 

Caesar, Irving, 48 

Callas, Maria, 93 

Camp, summer, 15, 17, 25 


Candidc, 120-122, 160, 163 
Carnegie Hall, debut in, 1-5, 55-58, 


Carnegie Hall Playhouse, 77 
Caruthers, Osgood, 145 
Central America, appearances in, 

Chasins, Abram, 113 

Chavez, Carlos, 44, 88 

Cherubmi, 93 

Chicago, appearances in, 68 

Childhood days, 9-18 

Chile, appearances in, 140 

Chodorov, Jerome, 109, 159 

Cincinnati Symphony, 89 

Clurman, Harold, 32 

Coates, Helen, 13, 21, 23, 52, 79, 

"7, 159 

Cohn, Felicia Montealegre, 105, 159 
Coleman, Robert, 109, 121, 126 
Colombia, appearances in, 139 
Colonne, Edouard, 131 
Comdcn, Betty, 31, 48, 74-75, 108, 

158, 159 
Compositions, 157-161 

early, 14, 18, 23, 30, 45-46, 50 
first ballet score, 71-73 {see also 

Ballet music) 
first opera, 107, 159, 163 
first symphony, 50, 69-71, 88, 89, 

93, 152, 157, 163 
later, 67-77, 101-102, 111-112 
musical comedies (see Musical 

second symphony, 102-104, I 4 2 > 

159, 163 

Concert appearances (see Conduct- 
Conccrtgebouw Orchestra, 93, 132 

Conducting, debut in, 1-5, 55-58, 

first experiences with, 25, 2829, 

36, 49 

genius of Bernstein, 96100 
guest appearances, 68, 87, 88-90 
on tours, 96, 139-149 
Conductors, function of, 59-66 
Contest, for music information, 18 

for symphonic work, 50 
Conway, Harold, 126 
Cook, Barbara, 160 
Copland, Aaron, 23, 24, 27, 30, 32, 
35, 39, 45, 49, 73, 88, 94, 100, 
140, 142, 147, 157 
Cradle Will Roc^ The, 25-27, 87 
Criticisms, musical, written by 

Bernstein, 24 

Curtis Institute of Music, 34-37, 42 
Curtis Institute Orchestra, 36 
Czech Philharmonic, 88 

Daily Express, 122, 126 
Daily Mail, 126 
Daily News, 58 
Daily Sketch, 126 
Damrosch, Leopold, 131 

Walter, 131, 132 
Debut, at Carnegie Hall, 1-5, 55- 

58, 152 
Delius, 153 
Denby, Edwin, 72 
De Witt Clinton Adult Center, 77 
Diamond, David, 94, 142, 159 
Dorsey, Tommy, 78 
Downes, Olin, 57 
Draper, Paul, 108 
Duke, Vernon, 46, 87 

Ecuador, appearances in, 140 
Education (see Schools) 

Eisenhower, Dwight, 139, 141 
Eisfeld, Theodore, 130 
Eisner, Alfred, 157 
Elegy for Mippy 1, 158 
Elegy for Mippy //, 158 
Employment, 21, 22, 47-49 
England, appearances in, 90, 92, 

121, 142, 148 
Ernst, Fritz, 143 
Etienne, D., 130 
Europe, tour of, 141-143 

Facsimile, 101-102, 107, 158 
Fancy Free, 71-73, 102, 152, 158, 


Fanfare for Bima, 158 
Festival of Creative Arts, at Bran- 

deis, 107 

Fields, Joseph, 109, 159 
Films, piano accompaniments to, 24 
Fine, Irving, 24 
Finland, appearances in, 142 
Florida, vacation in, 18 
Foote, 135 

Four Anniversaries, 159 
France, appearances in, 90, 142 
Frederick R. Mann Auditorium, 96, 

Gaburo, Kenneth, 135 

Garfield, John, 33 

Garrett, Betty, 77 

Gauk, Alexander, 146 

Gebhard, Heinrich, 13, 23, 28, 30 

Germany, appearances in, 90, 93, 

Gershwin, George, 25, 48, 79, 88, 

95, 140, 142 
Gilbert, 135 
Gilbert and Sullivan, 17, 31 


Girl with Two Left Feet, The, 32 
Glazer, David, 46, 157 
Gradenwitz, Peter, 89 
Greece, appearances in, 141 
Green, Adolph, 31, 48, 74-75, 81, 

108, 158, 159 
Group Theater, 32 
Guarnieri, Camargo, 49 
Guthrie, Tyrone, 160 

Handel, 7, 99, 135 

Harper's Bazaar, 78 

Harris, Roy, 30, 88, 140 

Harrison, Jay, 112 

Harvard, 22-30 

Hasfyvcnu, 158 

Hawkins, Coleman, 48 

Haydn, 63, 99 

Heifetz, 20 

Hellman, Lillian, 120, 160 

Herald Tribune, 57, 68, 72, 77, 112, 


Hill, Edward Burlingame, 23 
Hill, U. C., 130 

Hindemith, Paul, 40, 45, 63, 88, 94 
Hines, Earl, 48 

Holland, appearances in, 90, 93, 142 
Holland Music Festival, 93 
Holliday, Judy, 32 
Hospital, composing in, 74 
Houseman, John, 26 
Houston Symphony, 89 
Huneker, James Gibbons, 129 
Hungary, appearances in, 93 

I Hate Music: Five Kid Songs, 50, 

52, 53, 157 

Information Please program, 79, 80 
Institute of Modern Art, in Boston, 

45, 46 

International Festival in Prague, 88, 

International Program for Cultural 

Presentations, 139, 141 
Israel Philharmonic, 94-96, 122 
Italy, appearances in, 93, 112, 142 
Ives, Charles, 94, 135, 136, 142, 145 

Jeremiah Symphony, 50, 69-71, 88, 

89, 93, 152, 157, 163 
Journal-American, 125 
Joy of Music, The, 79, 152, 161 

Kabalevsky, Dimitri, 144, 146 

Kalliwoda, Johann Wenzel, 130 

Karloff, Boris, 159 

Kazan, Elia, 33 

Reiser, David, 127 

Kelly, Gene, 77 

Kerr, Walter, 77, 126 

Kert, Larry, 161 

Khatchaturian, Aram, 144, 145 

Klesmer, 8 

Kogan, Leonid, 144, 145 

Kolodin, Irving, 108 

Kondrashin, Kirin, 146 

Koussevitzky, Nathalie, 157 
Serge, 19, 20, 25, 37-42, 46, 47, 
51, 57, 69, 73, 76, 84, 88, 93-94, 
96, 103, 105, 157, 159 

La Guardia, Fiorello, 87 
Lambert, Constant, 42 
Lamentation, 50 

Lar%, The, incidental music to, 160 
La Scala opera house, 93, 152 
La Touchc, John, 120, 160 
Lauren ts, Arthur, 123, 161 
Lawrence, Carol, 161 
Lebanon, appearances in, 142 

Lenox, Massachusetts, 37, 51 

Levine, Maurice, 163 

Lewisohn Stadium, 68, 87 

Lipkin, Seymour, 142 

List, Eugene, 88 

Liszt, Franz, 61, 99, 130 

Los Angeles, appearances in, 68 

Lully, Jean-Baptiste, 60 

Luxembourg, appearances in, 142 

McClain, John, 125 
MacDowell, 135 
McKenney, Ruth, 108, 159 
Mahler, Gustav, 63, 93, 99, 132, 135 
Malipiero, 29 
Manley, Gordon, 73 
Marriage, 105106 
Martin, John, 72 
Martin, Mary, 163 
Martin Beck Theater, 121 
Massachusetts State Orchestra, 24 
Mehegan, Johnny, 159 
Mendelberg, Willem, 93, 132 
Mendelssohn, Felix, 61 
Menotti, Gian-Carlo, 112 
Merriman, Nan, 71 
Merritt, Arthur Tilhnan, 23 
Messiaen, Olivier, 94 
Mexico, appearances in, 139 
vacations in, 105, 106107 
Milhaud, 88 
Miller, Ann, 77 
Milstein, Nathan, 90 
Minneapolis Symphony, 89 
Mirror, New York, no, 121 
Mishkan Tefila, Temple, 10, 15, 

Mitropoulos, Dimitri, 28-29, 30, 

34-35, 64, 126-127, 132, 139 
Modern Music, 24, 70 

Montreal Symphony, 68 

Moscow Symphony, 146 

Mozart, 63, 88, 99, 142, 143 
talk on, 116 

Munch, Charles, 88, 94, 107 

Music Publishers Holding Corpo- 
ration, 48 

Musical comedies: Candide, 120-122 
On the Town, 75-77 
West Side Story, 123-126 
Wonderful Town, 109-111 

My Sister Eileen, 108-109 

National Symphony, 132 

NBC Symphony, 89 

New York City Ballet, 104 

New York City Symphony, 87-88, 


New York Philharmonic, 36, 87, 93, 
122, 126-128 

Bernstein as music director, 51- 
52, 127-128, 133-138 

debut with, 1-5, 55-58, 152 

history of, 129-132 

tours with, 139-149 
New York Symphony Society, 132 
New Yor\ Times, The, 57, 72, 73, 

76, 78, 89, 104, 144, 145 
New Yorker, 109 
Nichols, Lewis, 76 
Nikisch, Artur, 146 
Nixon, Richard, 142, 151 
North, Alex, 87 
Norway, appearances in, 142 

Odets, Clifford, 33 
Omnibus programs, 114, 122 
On the Town, 75-77, 152, 163 
Onions, Oliver, 79 
Onota, Camp, 15, 17, 25 


Opera: Trouble in Tahiti, 107, 159, 

i6 3 

Oppenheim, David, 49 
Osato, Sono, 75, 158 

Palestine Philharmonic, 89, 94-96 
Panama Canal, cruise through, 18 
Paramount Pictures, 79 
Parker, Dorothy, 120, 160 
Parties, entertaining at, 15, 16, 18, 

32, 36 

Pasternak, Boris, 147 
Pergolesi, 135 
Personality of Bernstein, 78-83, 

Peter Pan, incidental music to, 159, 


Petrillo, James Caesar, 44 
Pettina, Irra, 160 

Philadelphia, music school in, 34-37 
Piano, first experiences with, 10-11 

lessons on, 12-15, 36 
Piatigorsky, Gregor, 96 
Piston, Walter, 23, 30, 142 
Pittsburgh Symphony, 68-69, 87, 


Poland, appearances in, 142 
Prelude, Fanfare and Riffs, 160 
Preview Concerts, 135-136 
Prokofiev, 100, 144, 145 
Pulitzer, Joseph, 132 
Purcell, 88 

Rachmaninoff, Serge, 18, 20, 84 

Radio programs, 136 

Ravel G major Piano Concerto, 23, 

68, 90, 139 
Ravinia Park, 68 
Recipes, set to music, 102 


Recordings, 71, 73, 122, 134, 137, 


Reiner, Fritz, 34-37. 4, 47 
Resnick, Jennie, 9 
Reviews, of Age of Anxiety, 104 

of Candide, 121 

of conducting debut, 57-58 

of European tour, 143 

of Fancy Free, 72 

of Jeremiah Symphony, 70 

of On the Town, 76 

of Palestine performance, 89-90 

of preview concerts, 136 

of Russian tour, 144, 145 

of Serenade, 112 

of Seven Anniversaries, 73 

of television appearances, 116 

of Trouble in Tahiti, 108 

of West Side Story, 125-126 

of Wonderful Town, 109-110, 

written by Bernstein, 24 
Rivera, Chita, 161 
Robbins, Jerome, 71, 75, 101, 104, 

112, 123, 158, 161 
Rochester Philharmonic, 89 
Rodzinski, Artur, 51, 54, 57, 132 
Rondo for Lifey, 159 
Rouseville, Robert, 160 
Rozsa, Miklos, 54 
Rubinstein, Artur, 96 
Russell, Rosalind, 109, in, 159 
Russia, Bernstein's father in, 8 

Koussevitzky in, 38 

tour of, 142, 143149 

Saddler, Donald, 159 
Safonov, Vassily, 131, 132 
St. Louis Symphony, 71, 87, 89 
Saturday Review, 108 

Saville Theater, 121 
Schippers, Thomas, 142 
Schoenberg, Arnold, 104 
Schools, at Berkshire Music Center, 


Boston Latin School, 15, 21 
Curtis Institute of Music, 34-37, 

early education in, 15, 21-22, 23- 


Harvard, 22-30 
Schuman, William, 30, 73, 88, 135, 

140, 157 
Schumann, Robert, 2, 7, 29, 54, 93, 

99, 128 

Serenade, 111-112, 160, 163 
Serenade -for Seven, 112 
Seven Anniversaries, 73, 157, 163 
Shapero, Harold, 94 
Shostakovich, 100, 122, 128, 144, 

146, 147, 149 

Sight reading of scores, 35, 37 
Sinatra, Frank, 77, 78 
Sitwell, Sacheverell, 42 
Smith, Oliver, 71 
Smith, Warren Story, 70 
Sonata for clarinet and piano, 46, 

49> 157 

Sondheim, Stephen, 125, 161 
South America, appearances in, 139- 


Toscanini in, 4 
Spohr, Louis, 60 
Spoleto Festival in Italy, 112 
Sports, success in, 15 
Starr, Herman, 48 
Stern, Isaac, 96, 112, 160 
Stokowski, Leopold, 87 
Stransky, Josef, 132 

Strauss, Johann, 7 

Richard, 2, 54, 128, 131 
Stravinsky, Igor, 19, 24, 63, 88, 94, 

100, 145 

Sullivan, Gilbert and, 17, 31 
Sweden, appearances in, 142 
Switzerland, appearances in, 142 
Symphonies: Age of Anxiety, 102- 

104, 142, 159, 163 
Jeremiah Symphony, 50, 69-71, 

88, 89, 93, 152, 157, 163 
Symphony Hall, 18, 19, 93 

Tanglewood, 7, 37-43, 46, 88, 106, 

108, 122, 134 
Taubman, Howard, 104, 108, 116, 

128, 136 

Teaching of music, 47, 113-117 
Television appearances, 113-117, 

136, 164 

Temple Mishkan Tefila, 10, 15, 106 
Thomas, Theodore, 131 
Thompson, John, 121, 126 
Thompson, Randall, 36 
Thomson, Virgil, 49, 68, 70, 99 
Time magazine, 76 
Timm, H. C., 130 
Toscanini, Arturo, 4, 20, 89, 132, 138 
Tourel, Jennie, 52, 53-54, 69, 157 
Tours, conducting, 96, 139-149 
Town Hall, appearances in, 49, 53 
Trouble in Tahiti, 107, 159, 163 
Tschaikovsky, 79 
Tschaikovsky Conservatory, 143, 


Turkey, appearances in, 142 
Turner, Charles, 140 

Ukraina Hotel, 145 

Union, Musicians, 32, 4445, 91 

Uruguay, appearances in, 140 


Vancouver Symphony, 87 

Vanguard, The, 32 

Venezuela, appearances in, 139, 140 

Vengerova, Isabella, 36 

Venice Festival in Italy, 112 

Voltaire, 120, 160 

Wagner, Richard, 2, 54, 62, 63, 130, 


Walker, Nancy, 75, 158 
Walter, Bruno, 2, 54, 55, 64 
Waltham, Massachusetts, 107 
Waltz for Mippy 111, 159 
War years, activity during, 45, 47, 


Warner Brothers, 79 
Waterfront, incidental music to, 

123, 160 

Weber, Karl Maria von, 130 
Weingartner, Felix, 131 
Welles, Orson, 26 
West Side Story, 123-126, 161, 163 
Wilbur, Richard, 120, 160 
Williams, Tennessee, 108 
Wilson, Cecil, 126 
Winter Garden, 123 
WNYC, performances on, 49 
Wonderful Town, 109-111, 159, 163 
Works o Bernstein (see Compo- 
World-Telegram, 112, 126 

Youmans, Vincent, 48 
Yugoslavia, appearances in, 142 

Zirato, Bruno, 54, 55